Oh, we’re having an absolute feijoa festival here in San Francisco, admittedly one of our lower key festivals since it seems to consist mainly of me plus one vendor each at some of our farmers’ markets. Well, and a handful of folks i’ve trained to like the chutney i make from feijoas.
Of course the first thing about feijoas is how to pronounce them. I’m a firm believer that the way most things are pronounced in their home regions is the correct pronunciation. It absolutely gives me the creeps to hear New Englanders say pea’ can for the popular pie nut when they mean puh cahn’. I mean, at least they could get the accent on the right syllable!
Several years ago my friend Charlotte was visiting San Francisco and was taken aback when i pronounced the fruit mango as mahngo because what she’d heard all her life was maengo, rhyming with tango. Well yes, in suburban Colorado that’s the correct pronunciation simply because the vast majority of suburban Coloradoans say it that way even though in western India where God invented the fruit it’s pronounced mahngah. And when the Portuguese took it back to Europe they changed the spelling and pronunciation to mahngo, and the rest of western Europe, including England, copied that pronunciation.
All the mangoes sold in the United States are grown in places where they’re called mahngos, and the majority of those sold in San Francisco are sold in Mexican markets, where i buy mine and where they’re pronounced mahngo. I’m not sure that a majority of San Franciscans say mahngo, but certainly huge numbers do. So i’ll stick with mahngo here.
But what about feijoas? Well, the little things come from Brazil, as does their name, so at home they’re fay jows (with the j as in French “Jean” and the ow up in your nose). Alas, the Spanish influence here is too strong, so almost everyone says fay ho ahs as if it were Spanish. Almost nobody anymore calls ’em “pineapple guavas” since they don’t taste anything at all like a pineapple and only moderately resemble guavas.
On the other hand, they sure do make good chutney.