I was well into adulthood when I found out that a Pawpaw was an edible fruit. Up until that time, I thought a Pawpaw was my friend’s grandfather. During my teen years, I attended a small country fair at the Paw Paw fairgrounds outside of Rivesville, WV, so the word came to mean a place to buy cotton candy.
Later we drove through the town of Paw Paw, WV, many times on our way here, there, and everywhere. I didn’t know that Paw Paw was so named because of the wild fruit that grew in abundance in the area. The town is also famous for the Paw Paw Tunnel, part of the C & O canal since it’s completion in 1850. It is located in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park and is well worth a visit.
A lesser known fact about Paw Paw, WV, is that it is home to the Avalon Resort, which markets itself as the friendliest clothing optional resort. Even though I am just a few steps beyond normal, I haven’t visited this resort. I may have had a passing thought about going because they have a nice looking pool and I kind of like skinny dipping but….no. For those of you who might be interested, they encourage you to take your own towel to sit on.
Last year, when my friend, Susan, went to the Pawpaw Festival in Morgantown, I decided that I wanted to try this fruit. Surprisingly enough, it did not appear to be sold in stores. I found out that not only is it difficult to harvest and transport but, because they don’t ripen after picked, the Pawpaw has a very short shelf life.
I attended the Pawpaw Festival this year just so I could sample this unique fruit. Also referred to as a hillbilly mango or a hipster banana, the fruit appealed to my sense of adventure. It’s actually considered to be a berry, the largest produced by a tree native to the U.S. Not only is it nutritious, but it has been used with success in cancer therapy. There is also a natural insecticide in the twigs and bark.
The fruit was sweet, smooth, and creamy, almost like custard. I loved it! I also loved that the seeds were collected in buckets separate from the peel so that they could be planted. I would have liked to have bought a few plants to bring home but the line was long and my patience was short. Maybe another time!