A Guide to Exotic Fruit

Alright, so certain anecdotes have led me to think it might be a good idea if you sad vanilla folk (or picky eaters in general) had some kind of listing discussing not only flavor, but also how to eat, fruits beyond the standard run of apple-orange-banana. Here goes...(and yes, it's alphabetical). Will add fruits when I remember/try them.

  • Cardamom Banana
      These things are totally wild! They're like adorably compressed real bananas. Weirdly enough, you have to wait for them to look like what would be super ripe for a real banana: brown spots, totally yellow. They're somewhat crunchier and have an odd tang of...something. Not bad, either way.
  • Dates
      Didn't like them at first but now I'm somewhat addicted...buy the Medjool kind. Deglet Noor dates are somewhat ass-tastic. Anyway, they totally have a big seed in the middle--what I prefer to do is eat half, rip out the innards and toss them, and finish the rest. Delicious!
  • Guava
      Choosing. Undamaged of course. These fruits should be big--large enough to hold uncomfortably in your fist--and turn yellow when they're ripe.
      Eating. Nothing to it! My great-uncle tells me there's a tradition in India where you should eat a guava from start to finish by yourself with only your teeth as tools, because one of the many (swallowable) seeds contains nectar. So, yeah, just enjoy. Slice if you want, but the skin's edible.
  • Kumquat
      I had these once when I was a kid, in India. They were gross.
  • Lychee (litchi?)
      Choosing. Mostly you want them to be kind of soft and fragrant (never underestimate the power of smell when it comes to picking fruits!), with some reddishness at the top.
      Eating. Peel off the outside--it's similar to taking the skin off an orange but not as thick, just insert your fingernail beneath the top stem and start pulling. Make sure the pink layer comes off, too--the edible bit should look like a very troubling boiled egg. But it is delicious. Don't eat the seed!
  • Mango
      Choosing. There are actually a lot of different kinds of mangoes out there, the most common two are those yellow smaller Manila ones (which can be grown inside the U.S.) and the bigger red ones (which tend to be from Mexico). The former is a little safer, as there's less chance of it turning out to be all gross and fibry on the inside (I still have not heard of a good way to identify excess fibrousness)--but there are other kinds out there. The queen of mangoes is the Ratangiri, which goes for $40 a box at our local Indian store.
      Eating. Slice it--you can't go all the way through because of the seed, you have to work the knife a little away from the center. Don't eat the skin. Do, however, suck the delicious flesh off the seed before tossing it.
  • Musk melon
      Choosing. Whatever you normally do for canteloupes or honeydew is fine. For the record, I hate canteloupes and I liked this. It's like a canteloupe-colored sweeter version of a honeydew.
      Eating. I desperately hope this is obvious: don't eat the skin. Otherwise, whatever the hell you do for this kind of fruit.
  • Pomegranate
      Choosing. Look for ones that are a reasonably dark shade of red, no bruises and whatnot.
      Eating. You...cannot...eat...the...skin. So how do you eat a pomegranate? Carefully. Take a knife and chop it in half and then spend the next hour picking out the innards. If you've chosen a properly ripe pomegranate they will be very dark red...and burst easily if dropped.
  • Star Fruit
      Choosing. Yellow-orange is riper. Go for yellow-orange.
      Eating. Slice it along the...coronal?...axis, and yes you can totally eat the skin (man, I do not want to imagine how much of a bitch peeling that would be.) You may not want to eat the white middle (I spat it out a couple of times when I was eating the middle pieces). Beth told me they eat it with salt in El Salvador, and it actually was good with salt, a convenient segue into....
      Flavor. As juicy as a watermelon, as crisp as an apple (...I think, I tend to not eat them), with a unique tropical tang. I imagine they're better even riper, but doubt this is ever going to be a whole fruit I want to eat by myself. Sorry, star fruit. You look cooler than you taste, at least when imported from Taiwan into the U.S.
  • Sugarcane
      Choosing. There isn't that much to it, just make sure the fibers are a nice whitish color--red or brown = a bad thing. Also, if the place you're going to is selling the giant stalks, get them cut there—heightwise, you really want them to be about eight inches to one foot in length for convenience.
      Eating. Oh man, this is a fuckin' adventure. It goes much better if you have nice upper...lateral teeth, I think they're called--the ones in between the canines and your two front teeth. Why? Because what you basically want to do (after washing the thing) is take those teeth and use them to bite down on the outer layer of the cane, and then rip it downward and off. Once you've exposed the whitish pulp, stuff that in your mouth and chew on it. The fibers are inedible, so spit those out once it goes dry.
      Flavor. There's something very milky about sugarcane juice. Also, obviously, it's somewhat sweet but, unlike standard American fare, note oversweet at all. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

No comments: