Who's asking: The cast of Crimes of the Heart, Hallowell, ME
Characters in Crimes of the Heart, which is set in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, go out back to pick up pawpaws. Someone asked what these were, and I said (from my ignorance) that they were papayas; Tim, who plays Doc, said he thought they were something closer to bananas.
Turns out, we're both right and we're both wrong. Although papayas are called pawpaws in Australia, the fruit called pawpaw in North America is also known as a Hoosier banana -- though it isn't a banana.
Asimina triloba, the pawpaw, is a deciduous (leaf-dropping) tree native to North America. It grows all over the temperate zones of the middle United States, from Indiana to Mississippi. It bears green fruit that look vaguely like small, stubby bananas -- these are actually berries, and their closest relatives are not bananas but custard apples or soursops. Pawpaws are the largest edible fruit native to North America.
I've never tried one, and am not sure I've ever seen one in the market -- but then, I've never lived in the center of the country. What do they taste like? Post your pawpaw experiences in the comments section, and let me know how I can get some in central Maine.