While on the island of Maui, I took full advantage of the fact that papayas were local and in season. One morning, I enjoyed the melonlike fruit for breakfast in a straightforward tropical medley, with other South Pacific favorites like passionfruit and starfruit; now, I'm longing to dress it up slightly, perhaps with some cacao nibs and hazelnuts for crunch.
The fruit could've just as easily been shaved or shredded into a savory Southeast Asian salad. Much like mangoes, the papaya can be enjoyed unripe, and adds crunch and sweetness in a toss with fish sauce, dried shrimp, and garlic in the Thai salad known as som tam. Get the recipe for either when you read on.