Weird produce you can sample without a plane ride, September 25, 2014

Author: Heather Hacking @HeatherHacking on Twitter
Why do we like to travel? To hear words that sound like music? To see artwork we learned about in college G.E. classes?

Some of us may travel for food – moussaka in Greece, pyroshki in Russia and lumpia in the Philippines.
One year my dad took the adult children to O’ahu.

My sister and I squealed in unison for Dad to stop at the fruit stand. Our request had absolutely nothing to do with the shirtless man holding a machete, waiting for people to buy coconuts from a bucket of ice water.

We bought one of every fruit we had never experienced, including jackfruit and star fruit. Passion fruit was familiar, but only as a flavoring in diet Snapple.

When it comes to weird and wacky food, you really don’t need to jump on a plane to find something fun and different.

At the Thursday night market, one of my favorite vendors sells two-foot long green beans gathered together in a rubber band.

I could have worn the beans as a necklace, but I threw them into a stir fry. They tasted exactly like green beans.

My current favorite is jicama, a root that is a bit like a turnip, but totally different. The skin peals off easily and the vegetable can be chopped into carrot-stick sized bites. Nearly flavorless, jicama satisfies the crunching urge, without a bazillion calories.

The cute couple on Third Street (where I like to buy almonds) sells Mexicola avocados when their tree is good and ready. The fun part is that you can eat these avocados skin and all.

Bargain dancing

Several weeks ago my sister and I found ourselves at Grocery Outlet (bargain market), bonding over dragon fruit. We love the music at this store. During the most recent visit, my sister pointed out a sign that states:

“Feel free to dance and sing.”

What an affirmation. Now we won’t need to hide from the hidden cameras while singing and dancing in the aisles.

Near the front of the store was a giant box of a pinkish, waxy, bumpy objects that were either a fruit or alien pupae: dragon fruit.

The price was two for three dollars, so we chose the largest fruit we could find.

While rummaging, we had a long, lively conversation with a woman who also couldn’t just walk by weird fruit without pause.

The skin is waxy, much like the red skin on Gouda cheese. I found instructions on the Internet that said to slice the dragon fruit in half lengthwise.

Inside was white flesh with spots, very similar to kiwifruit. The taste was bland compared to my expectations, but cold and yummy in a new sort of way.

I sliced it like I would jicama.

Wikipedia notes that the dragon fruit is not from Thailand (as noted in tiny print on the sticker), but is a night-blooming cactus originally native to Mexico. The plant itself looks like a cactus tree, and/or something created by computer for the film “Avatar.”

Buddha’s hand,, sometimes called a “fingered citron,” is a fun, yet freakish-looking fruit, used in China and Japan to overpower the smell of gym socks in your children’s room (I’m guessing). At the farmer’s market in Sacramento I stumbled across Australian limes, These taste great in soda water and have little seeds that feel like roe in your mouth.

The woman at the grocery store said she bought the dragon fruit because her daughter recently gave her a dragon fruit plant. If the fruit was good, she would learn how to keep the plant alive.

I wish we had exchanged phone numbers. I’d like to check on her plant in the future.

Perhaps one day I’ll spot her dancing in the aisles.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.