There’s a multi-cultural market just a few blocks from where I live that I pop into whenever I need gari or a twenty-pound bag of rice. It’s fun to just browse–it’s the only place I’ve ever seen pig uteri for sale. They also have exotic fruits–dragonfruit, jackfruit, horned melon. I’m old enough to remember when plantains were “exotic”. I’m always fascinated but avoid picking up these fruits because of the time I bit into a persimmon that made my mouth roll up like a Havana cigar. I want to make sure I try these fruits at their best.
I should have known there was a book that could help. Back to the market, but I’ll still pass on the pig uteri.
Those limes sound amazing. I can see those being used in a lot of ways, but oysters are the first thing to come to mind. Have you tried that, Kelly? A little salsa of lime caviar with shallots, maybe some jalepeno or a dash of tabasco, I bet that would go really well.
I’m inspired to go hunting in China Town and other cultural markets now for exotic fruits.
I’m actually pretty fortunate that, as a foodie, my family has worked in the produce business (myself excluded) since my grandparents came to Canada from Italy. My grandparents opened a small fruit market in my hometown back in the 60s and my dad worked as a produce wholesaler and so he would always bring all kinds of crazy exotic fruits and vegetables home for us to try.
One thing that’s bothered me about exotic fruits is that the flavors are often not that exotic. Dragonfruit are a prime example – they look crazy! They’re big and pink and look like a little fireball. And when you open it up, it’s white with dots?!
But it tastes like a mild melon, or a sweetish cucumber. My wife’s family is Korean, and I live in the NYC area so I’ve also spent a fair amount of time in Chinatown, and overwhelmingly when exposed to a new, exotic fruit, the flavor is mild and not that interesting. Lychee is nice, for example, but nothing to write home about.
However, as a new parent, I am definitely looking forward to foisting weird-looking food on my son!
The Fruit Hunters is a great book and finger limes sure look like fun. Many fruit adventurers of limited means can find exotic taste in their own temperate zone backyard or farmer’s market by making their own rhubarb juice. Super low tech: chop as many stalk as you want into 1/2" pieces, freeze, thaw, pour through and let drain in strainer, cheesecloth or proper jelly bag, give a squeeze and voila: raw, very tart, pretty clear rhubarb juice with a Brix of 3. For a smoother beverage with a longer refrigerator shelf life we put between 12# fresh to 16# frozen thawed rhubarb 1" pieces in a Mehu Liisa 10L fruit steamer and get 5-6 qts of beautiful pink clear juice. Add 1/4 cup sugar per quart to bring the Brix up to 8-9, still plenty tart, and most people and grand kids love it this way or 1/2 and 1/2 with homemade bubble water. We like it unsweetened but that is an acquired taste. Exotic tropical fruits are great but they can be be hard to source and pretty spendy in the hinterlands. Rhubarb itself is not particularly exotic but steamed rhubarb juice is. We make about 20 gallons a year, share most of it and tell anyone who will listen that rhubarb is a metaphor for finding happiness in your own backyard.
There are two types of persimmon, with very different ripeness indicators, but in general persimmons are cooked rather than eaten raw like an apple.
Koreans eat a grape that is small-to-medium sized, very round, and dark purple. There are seeds, which is the downside, but the fruit itself is much sweeter and more full-tasting than the usual grapes found in larger grocery stores. Try them!
Now you’re talking like a crazy person! They taste like perfume when they’re ripe.
Perfume?! Next you’re going to say that some people flavor pastries with lavender.
You’ll never guess what they use in Turkish delight!
I spent too many years of my life without tasting a cherimoya.
Rose apples. Mangosteen. Rambutan. Soursop. Custard apples. The ever popular durian. Strawberry guava. Apple bananas. Passion fruit. Dozens of varieties of mango. Tamarind. Starfruit. Mountain apple. (It’s weird, how many fruits ended up with “apple” in their Anglicized names)
“Lime Pomegranate” seems a more accurate/less bizarre description.
The French came up with a good one for potatoes, too.
If you like tropical fruit, how about Durian, the so-called “King of Fruits”?
My father-in-law used to grow them. I can just about bear to eat it if I hold my breath, but fully understand why Singapore bans them on public transport …
@chgoliz - you know a persimmon fruit is ripe when the flesh is jelly like. i eat both varieties uncooked all the time.
@peemlives - aren’t cherimoya divine?
@MadLibrarian - why’d you have to mention strawberry guava, now i’m salivating! I love both types of passion fruit Granadilla is one of my favorites, and i’ve developed quite a fondness for durian. I like the yellow mangosteen better then the regular variety.
@EggyToast - Dragon fruit isn’t the norm, many exotic fruits have absolutly amazing flavors.
I am TOTALLY a fruit hunter, but I am just as adventurous when it comes to other foods as well, meats, shellfish, eggs, seaweeds, mushrooms, vegetables, herbs, spices, edible flowers, teas…culinary adventures are one of my passions. i’m even open to trying insects dishes whenever possible.
Those are the Japanese type. The other ones, which are more likely to be grown in the States, stay firm and aren’t as puckering to begin with. Still, it’s mostly a cooked fruit here.
I eat both these kinds regularly, but most frequently the kind on the left:
I’ve never had one not soften up properly on me.
I thought the kind on the left was the kind that is also grown in north america, is there another type of persimmon I have yet to try? If so I am excited! I love persimmons.
Well color me surprised: turns out there’s a lot more than either you or I have ever imagined!
The one I was talking about is apparently called the American persimmon. I knew about the squishy fuyu variety, and I guess I assumed hachiya=American, which it doesn’t.