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Behold the noble pawpaw

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Versatile fruit: Edwin Smith with his family’s new cookbook, Pawpaw Bermuda, whose recipes feature the vegetable (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The pawpaw has dominated the Smith family’s dinner table since last year when they began work on a joint cookbook project centred around the fruit.

Pawpaw Bermuda, created by Edwin Smith, his wife Shirley Ann and their sons Micrae and Stefan, contains more than 20 recipes and a collection of Bermuda art featuring pawpaws, that dates back to the 19th century.

Dr Smith, who has a PhD in fine arts from Texas Tech University, has also written a section on the incorporation of pawpaws into Bermuda art and the history, stretching back to the days of settlement, of how the fruit arrived on our island.

The Smiths launched the book last night at the opening of an exhibit of its art at Gallery One Seventeen.

“My family tends to collaborate on projects,” said Dr Smith, a senior art lecturer at the Bermuda College. “We chose to look at family values and we thought of pawpaws as a good reference to old Bermuda values.

“The book includes a social and cultural interest; in my work I like to critique aspects of our cultural society: why do we do what we do?

Dr Smith added: “As an artist I am always trying to look for something new. My wife came up with the pawpaw aspect.

“We have several pawpaw trees which have had large fruit, and many over the past few years, which also influenced our decision.”

One of the recipes in the book was inspired by the traditional one for pawpaw Montespan that Dr Smith found in a 1939 edition of The Royal Gazette.

The popular casserole was supposedly named after a home in Warwick, Montespan Lodge.

“My wife [also] took some of her recipes and modified them with pawpaws, and the family were the tasters,” Dr Smith said. “She is very particular, so she would cook them repeatedly and when she was happy she reproduced it again to make sure she was still happy. We put on a bit of weight!

“Micrae made paper from fibres of pawpaw which was used for art pieces and [is now on exhibit] and Stefan worked on some photography for the book.”

Dr Smith began researching local art that incorporated pawpaws and pawpaw trees and was amazed to find there was an abundance, including pieces by Adolph Treidler and Catherine and Ethel Tucker, as well as more modern works by the likes of Michael Swan, Rhona Emmerson and Janet Wingate.

“My research revealed that even back when Bermuda was being featured in postcards by the Trade and Development Board for tourism promotion somehow, instead of photobombing, they were pawpaw bombing,” Dr Smith explained. “They were often in the background peeking over.

“We didn’t have the graceful coconut palms, but these, which were imported in the 17th century, were everywhere.

“They were like our palm trees; they added that tropical flair.”

It’s most likely that the pawpaw was introduced to Bermuda from the Bahamas by Governor Daniel Tucker, the artist said.

“In 1609 there was an abundance of food, but by 1612 there was concern for how we were going to survive on this remote location with the dwindling food supply.”

Dr Smith added: “Governor Daniel Tucker managed this by bringing fruiting trees.

“So, he brought figs, bananas, plantains and pawpaws and other plants.”

Dr Smith has previously written a book, Image Making and the Bermudian Artist , which published in 2016.

Copies of Pawpaw Bermuda are available from Brown & Co, Bermuda Bookstore and Bermuda College for $35. An exhibit of the art in the book will remain at Gallery One Seventeen through September 27

Cooking together: the Smith family from left, Edwin, Micrae, Shirley Ann and Stefan, last night launched their book, Pawpaw Bermuda (Photograph supplied)
A good starter: pawpaw, carrot & pumpkin soup, one of the dishes in the Smith family’s book, Pawpaw Bermuda (Photograph supplied)
<p>Pawpaw, carrot pumpkin soup</p>

The Smith family’s pawpaw, carrot & pumpkin soup


• 1 green pawpaw diced (approximately 2 cups)

• 1 cup carrots diced

• 1 cup butternut squash diced

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• 1 teaspoon minced garlic

• ½ cup shallots or a medium white onion minced

• 4 cups vegetable stock

• 2 cups water

• 1 tablespoon coconut milk powder

• Salt (to taste)

• Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Peel the pawpaw, discard seeds, and dice into pieces. Parboil pawpaw in vegetable broth until soft. In a medium pan, heat olive oil and sauté shallots and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add sautéed shallots, garlic, carrots, and pumpkin to pot with pawpaw. Add water and continue to cook until all vegetables are soft.

Remove from heat add coconut milk powder then blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

Salt and pepper to taste.