Hialeah resident Ernesto Anaya didn’t expect to make one of the greatest botanic discoveries of the century, let alone make it in his own backyard. But the 66-year-old Cuban émigré did just that when he rolled out a broken dishwasher into the corner of his yard and spotted a peculiar looking bush that featured bushels of berries ornamented with two rows of patterned linear seeds.
“I had never seen or tasted anything like it,” said Mr. Anaya, who described the taste of the berry as having the “sweetness of guava combined with a sour aftertaste reminiscent of Mojo Criollo.”
Soon, Mr. Anaya began selling the berries, along with papayas and avocados picked from his neighbors’ yards, along the on-ramp to the 826. He marketed them as “Guayaberries”, because he thought their seeds looked like the stitching pattern of a guayabera shirt.
“This is an absolutely amazing example of imposed pomological modification and a major breakthrough in both the fields of botany and evolutionary ecology,” said University of Miami botany professor Dr. William R. Saperstein, who visited Mr. Anaya’s roadside sales post after he was brought a guayaberry by one of his doctoral student.
“The Guayaberry’s unusual taste and look is a result of the unique composition of the soil in Mr. Anaya’s backyard,” said Dr. Saperstein. “It appears Mr. Anaya’s wife had been dumping her husband’s discarded cigars butts, as well as oil runoff and pork-remnants from their yearly Noche Buena celebration in the “esquina basura” of their yard for years. Those influences interacted with several variations of berry indigenous to Hialeah, and ultimately culminated in this new species of fruit.”
As for Mr. Anaya, he remains skeptical about his newfound attention and about the potential millions that could come to him because of his discovery.
“I’ve learned not to get too excite about such things. We’ll see what happens.”