While we were in Ocala, Florida with friends, John and I mentioned that we wanted to eat only fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood when we got to the Keys. After spending a few weeks out of the van visiting family and friends in the southeast, we were ready to get back to our lighter fare. Unfortunately, all of the people we stayed with previously didn’t quite seem to understand that we were still able to eat while living in a van. They fed us like we had been starving to death, which we loved. But, we didn’t need that much food. That’s where the Robert is Here fruit stand comes in.
Go to Robert Is Here Fruit Stand
We were told that we needed to take the Tamiami Trail down to the Keys so we would be sure to go through a town called Redland. Here we would find fruit stands and produce markets galore to stock up before arriving in the Keys.
“You have to stop at Robert is Here fruit stand,” they told us.
“Huh?” I asked, “What is that?”
Well, the description of a large fruit stand/produce market didn’t do it justice. As soon as we pulled in, a menagerie of animals greeted us. Not to mention a ton of fruits we’d never seen before.
“Look, there’s a goat up on those rocks!” we called back to each other. “Oh look, a brahma! Hey, check out that tortoise! What in the heck is that fruit?”
A Fruit Stand Like No Other
When we made our way into Robert is Here fruit stand, we were amazed by the number of tropical fruits there we had never seen before. We immediately knew we wanted to try a few. The fruit known as guanabana had a sign that stated it was the best fruit ever and compared its flavor to pineapple cotton candy.
A fruit that tastes like cotton candy? Trying that was a no-brainer. There was also mamey sapote, which was described as being like cheesecake or pumpkin pie. Of course we needed to try this, too. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of fruits, my next thought was, How in the world am I going to know how to pick a ripe one of these?
Then I heard a shout from the counter, as if reading my mind. The jolly man said, “None of those are ripe; if you’re looking for something ready to eat I have ripe ones sliced, wrapped, and ready to eat at the counter.”
Like a mini miracle, both the guanabana and mamey sapote were there, and in more pocketbook-friendly versions.
Who is this super friendly fruit guy? I thought to myself.
None of the other clerks were doling out any sort of advice. Then I looked up and saw the friendly man’s picture in a frame with a newspaper article. It was THE Robert, the shop’s namesake. He cut up our fruit into bite-sized pieces and convinced us to also try the dragon fruit, which turned out to be our favorite.
A Local Legend
As he was preparing our fruit, locals came up to greet him and brought him delicious homemade gifts. I guess he’s become a bit of a local legend. It was pretty cool that Robert was there at his fruit stand to help us out.
Now, it’s time for a real-life fruit review. The dragon fruit was delicious. It was super sweet, had seeds inside like kiwi, and a slightly softer texture. We both gave it two thumbs up. The mamey sapote (which was described as cheesecake-like with a flavor of pumpkin pie) was orange, sort of like a yam inside. It tasted to me very similar to a cold-baked yam, which I enjoyed. John, however, did not. So, it gets one thumb up.
Lastly, the highly esteemed guanabana. This fruit had a gooey, slimy white inside with seeds slightly larger than a watermelon. Clearly, John and I don’t appreciate good fruit, because neither of us enjoyed it. For me, the slimy texture was more than I could handle and I didn’t notice any hints of cotton candy whatsoever. The verdict…two thumbs down. Just don’t tell Robert we said that!