Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

ceriman the fruit of the familiar ‘Swiss cheese plant’, Monstera deliciosa (sometimes known as monstera), grown as a houseplant for the sake of its unusual leaves, which have holes in them. The plant, a creeper of the arum lily family, is a native of Mexico and Guatemala. In its natural habitat it grows to a great size and bears fruits which somewhat resemble green corn cobs and which take just over a year to ripen on the plant.

The fruit, like that of any arum lily, for example the poisonous ‘lords and ladies’ common in the English countryside, is composed of a mass of berries on a spadix, the fleshy central spike first seen in the flower. In the case of the ceriman the spadix itself is eaten. Provided that the fruit is fully ripe, and carefully peeled, the flavour and texture are delicious; somewhere between banana and pineapple and mango, with a special aromatic quality. But it is rarely encountered outside its native region, although an English trade publication of about 1935 recorded that even then it was imported in limited quantities from Madeira during the winter; and recently some cultivation has taken place in Queensland, California, and Florida.