Tapay Pear

Ark of taste
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The Tapay Pear is quite small, only one or two fingers high, and it has a pointed shape. The peel is of a light green color, with darker green spots, while the pulp is white, soft, and juicy. The flavor is sweet at first and then sour at the end.

The pears are harvested with the use of a pallana (which means ‘picker’ in the Quechua language), which consists of a long wooden pole or a large reed, with a basket at the end that the apples fall into when they are picked from the trees. In the past the basket was made out of plant fibers, but today it is made of metal.

The cultivation of Tapay pears is tied to the festival for Marie Magdalene, Patron Saint of Tapay, which is celebrated on 22 July. In the past the farmers participated in the mass, then in the procession, and afterwards they threw fruit into the crowds of people. They also adorned the streets with branches full of pears, apples, and guiava and the locals staged a sort of battle to get the best branches.

The exact number of pears produced each year is not currently known. A portion of the production is used for personal consumption, while a part is used to trade for other food items that are not available in the Tapay region, like potatoes, fava beans, and corn. The remainder of the harvest is sold.

The main threat to this pear’s survival is that the trees are being substituted by avocadoes, which are much more profitable. What’s more, in 2013 fruit flies attacked the pear trees, though this is a minor threat when compared to the competition from more commercial, larger pears.

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