Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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pacay a Quechua word used in Spanish to refer to a plant, Inga feuillei, which belongs to the upland areas of the Andean region of S. America and bears large pods, up to 70 cm (27") long, containing edible white pulp. Some of the other plants of the genus with similar pods may be called guamá/guamo or ingá. Any of them, especially I. edulis and I. paterno, may also be called ‘ice-cream bean’; the resemblance between the sweet, perfumed, white pulp and ice cream is striking.

The popularity of pacay pods, which offer a sweet snack food in a natural ‘package’, dates back to the times of the Incas, and persists among rural populations in the Andes. However, most of the numerous species in the genus are grown in lowland areas as shade plants, or for fuel. The nutritional value of the pulp in the pods is small.