When I was younger, my father took the family to Paw Paw Woods in the southwest suburbs of Chicago in search of pawpaws. We found a paw paw tree, but it had no fruit. I don’t know whether we had come at the wrong time of year or if the fruit had already been collected or if it was a year that the tree was not going to be bearing fruit.
It was with my father’s obsession in mind that, when I spotted this book on the shelves I decided it would be the next book in line for my reading through the Dewey Decimal system.
Moore provides an engaging account of the natural and cultivational history of the pawpaw, the only tropical fruit to be found natively in temperate North America. Unlike other formerly wild fruits, there has been little success in domesticating the pawpaw. A number of cultivars now exist, but commercial growing has yet to be successful at the scales necessary to make the pawpaw anything more than a niche farmer’s market fruit.
I happened recently to be passing through Ann Arbor and thought we might stop by Zingerman’s Deli to try the pawpaw ice cream that was mentioned in the book, but alas, it is not, as Moore claims, a year-round offering, but only available during pawpaw season so there was no pawpaw ice cream to be had. Instead, at the end of September or beginning of October, I’ll grab my dad and drag him to Paw Paw Woods in search of pawpaws.