I absolutely LOVE papaya, which is ironic, because I don't live where they grow, and the quality of the papayas I have available is third rate at best. I always joke that it's a race to see if the papayas I buy will ripen or rot.
I get the big Maradol papayas imported from Mexico for 99 cents a pound at the Mexican fruit markets in a nearby city. The Hawaiian papayas cost at least $2.50 each (about a lb.) and they are usually poor quality. I love this little place called Mi Dos Patrias (My Two Countries), a little convenience store-sized market with narrow aisles and great big pinatas hanging from the ceiling. Not so nice is the stink of the carniceria in back! I go in and buy all of their papayas, usually 30-40 lbs. worth. They must wonder who this crazy lady that shows up every couple of weeks and wipes out their papaya supplies.
I didn't grow up eating papaya, and I don't remember the first time I tried it, but it was college or after, during the period when I had started experimenting with food beyond the fare I grew up with.
A funny papaya story. I gave birth to my youngest child at home with my husband and two female friends. I had some ripe papaya in the house. About two hours after the baby was born, at sunrise, I was suddenly ravenous! I told my husband to go and cut up papaya for us all to have for breakfast.
Both my friends, who were pretty with-it hip kinda girls, admitted that they had never tried papaya. I was shocked! But thrilled, as well, because now I could offer them this special food on this special occasion. It was a ripe, sweet and juicy papaya. In my ravenous, oxytocin-drenched state, it was the best food I had ever tasted. Imagine my surprise when they both hated it. My one friend said, "Will you be offended if I spit this out?" LOL! I wasn't offended, I was just unable to comprehend that anyone wouldn't enjoy this delicacy. However, I was more than happy to eat all of their papaya after I finished mine.
Someday, I will eat tree-ripened papaya under the warm tropical sun and I will celebrate birth with each bite!