Rosy and sweet or green and tart, the floral-scented fruit adds exotic flair to recipes

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In tropical locales, papayas play a dual role: pink-hued and ripe, they are a refreshing fruit choice, particularly at breakfast. “Traditionally in Hawaii, papaya is a breakfast food—you serve half a ripe papaya, chilled, with a squeeze of lemon or lime,” says Kenneth Kamiya, an Oahu-based papaya farmer for over 40 years. “Now, we see people eating it as a dessert, maybe with a scoop of yogurt or ice cream, or  as a snack.” Green (unripe) papayas get the vegetable treatment. The pale, tart flesh can be shredded for salads as in the Thai-style version (right), or cooked as you would winter squash in soups and stews.