Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

soursop Annona muricata, a tropical fruit native to the W. Indies and northern S. America, and now cultivated also in Mexico, India, SE Asia, and Polynesia. It is the most tropical and largest-fruiting member of the family of annonaceous fruits, which also includes cherimoya, ilama, bullock’s heart, etc.

The name may come originally from the Dutch zuurzak, which is also used in the Netherlands Antilles and Indonesia, but the derivation is uncertain. The Malay name, durian Belanda, is interesting. Betty Molesworth Allen (1965) has the following to say:

The word Belanda (meaning Hollander) was used to indicate something which was foreign and made known by the Dutch, and the spiny fruit of this plant must have suggested that of the native Durian. This interpretation, indicating that the object is foreign but resembles something already known, has resulted in some interesting etymology: thus halwa Belanda is chocolate, and kuching Belanda (foreign cat) is the rabbit, which has been introduced into Malaya.