Slow Food Columbus

Taste Education Field Trip: Pawpaw Festival

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When it comes to pawpaws, the need for education is apparent. Most people have never even seen one, and when you do a Google image search you get photographs of pawpaws, papayas, some durian-like spiky fruit, and the occasional dog. (Seriously.)

Pawpaws are not papayas. They’re a surprisingly tropical-tasting fruit, sort of a cross between a banana and a mango, with flesh the consistency of custard when they’re fully ripe. Chilled, they were one of George Washington’s favorite desserts. They are also a Slow Food Ark of Taste product, meaning that they are endangered by the industrialization of food: because they bruise easily and ripen quickly, they are less appealing to the food industry than (say) the hardy Cavendish banana. But they have few natural predators, require no pesticides, grow locally… and they’re delicious.

Pawpaw season is upon us, and one of the very best places in the world to sample pawpaws is at the Pawpaw Festival in Lake Snowden, OH. There will be many varieties available to sample and compare. Pawpaw experts, including Slow Food Betsy Lydon Award winner Neal Peterson and Integration Acres’ Chris Chmiel, will be present. There will be other activities too, but the pawpaws are the main attraction.

Join us for breakfast at the Northstar Café in the Short North on Saturday, September 19 at 9:00 a.m., where we will compare notes on how long everyone wants to stay and then carpool or caravan down to the Festival, leaving at 10 and arriving before noon. We will stay until late afternoon, during which time we will cheer on fearless leader Colleen and Hungrywoolf author Bethia, who will be official pawpaw judges at the festival. Those interested in doing so will most likely linger afterward for dinner in nearby Athens. Anyone interested in camping overnight should contact Bethia using the link on the Events page.