For a little taste of the tropics when you can't make it to the tropics, be sure to expand your culinary repertoire to include guava paste.
Guava paste (also known as goiabada, pasta de guayaba, and guayabate) isn't easy to spot in the many parts of the States unless you look in the Latin section of your supermarket. In contrast, it's a staple everywhere in Latin America, from Puerto Rico to Brazil and Mexico.
The substance is guava pulp, sugar, water, and pectin cooked down slowly into a concentrated form. It has firm consistency similar to that of membrillo and has a wide arrange of uses, from appetizers to desserts.
In Brazil, goiabada is spread on toast, or cut into squares and paired with cubes of local Minas cheese as a snack. In Portugal, it's used as a filling for bolo de rosas, or rose cake, and in Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands like Cuba, to fill guava and cheese empanadas. Personally, I'd love to try it as a dessert sauce, on to add sweetness to pork tenderloin with salsa. What have you used guava paste for?
Source: Flickr User Mr. T in DC
A member of the banana family, this fruit is larger, less sweet, and more firm than the common banana. It's extremely popular in Latin American cuisine and has a mild, squashlike flavor with a starchy texture similar to a potato. Plantains are never consumed raw but are enjoyed fried, boiled, or mashed.