Would you buy something pink with green tips with the intention of eating it? Or something with seeds attached by weird little tentacles? I did.
Every week in the shuk, the open air market in Jerusalem, I walk past a bunch of weird fruits and vegetables that I never used to see in Texas. There’s the usual fare: bananas, apples, pears, even the odd prickly pear or kiwi. But there’s also fuzzy fruits, lumpy fruits, oddly colored fruits. The cool thing is that nearly everything is “local.” The kibbutzes in the area are doing a booming business in exotic fruits, and Israel is so small that nothing has to travel very far to get to us in Jerusalem. So it’s also fresh and cheap; much cheaper than in the U.S.
This week’s challenge over at the Frugalette is to try a new food. So instead of being boring and buying the usual apples and oranges, I used our weekly fruit budget to buy the weirdest looking fruits I could find in the shuk. The interesting thing is that fruits have definite seasons (something you don’t always think about in the U.S., when everything is always available because it comes from California in summer and Chile in winter!), and one particular fruit I had in mind to try this week is not in season yet. But here is what I ended up coming home with, and after a bit of Googling I was able to pinpoint exactly what each one is (I think).
So far, we have only actually eaten two of them, so I will report back later with the skinny on the other three.
We couldn’t figure out exactly what the passionfruit was just by its outer appearance. I always thought they were a bit more purple than this (and apparently there are a number of varieties).
So I cut it open hoping to find more clues. The skin was very thick and hard to cut through, but as soon as I got in, I knew exactly what it was. It looked exactly like the picture on the cartons upon cartons of passion fruit juice I used to buy in Texas to mix “Valentino” cocktails.
Rodolfo saw it and laughed, because he also used to drink passion fruit juice by the liter back home in Ecuador, but since somebody always made the juice for him, he never saw what the actual fruit looked like on the outside. And you have to admit that the inside is a little incongruous to the outside.
It is native to South America and extremely common in Ecuador, where Rodolfo comes from. They also grow them in California and Florida in the U.S., among other places. And it’s delicious to just scrape out the insides by the spoonful and eat it! It is mostly juice; sweet juice with just a little tang. The consistency is just a little slimy, and the seeds basically go down whole without messing too much with the texture. (You can chew them if you’d like, but it’s actually a little difficult to get the slippery little things to sit in one place in your mouth long enough to chew.)
So we had a little laugh about our straight-from-the-carton, straight-from-the-kitchen sheltered childhoods and shared the fruit as a snack. But it’s only when you eat it straight from the fruit that you get a good look at how the seeds are attached on the inside. Each seed is inside a little self-contained bag of fruit that is anchored to the inside wall of the fruit’s shell by these weird little tentacles! Wow!
And now on to the starfruit. They are named after the (in my opinion, adorable) shape of their cross-section.
Sure, I had seen these before and I knew what they were, but I wasn’t sure that I had ever actually had one before. They are native to Asia. They are also grown in Ecuador and in Florida (among other tropical places). The fruit has a wonderful texture; crunchy and juicy, almost reminiscent of a fresh carrot. But the taste itself is just a little tangy and acidic, like a sweet citrus fruit.
They really dressed up the Groundhog Day pancakes Rodolfo made for me this morning.
(Today is actually the celebration of two very important days for me and Rodolfo, so he made me breakfast this morning! Great guy, right? We met on Groundhog Day in 2005, and we got engaged on Groundhog Day in 2008 in front of a whole bunch of our dearest friends at the University Catholic Center in Austin. They told me I won a raffle prize, and when I went up to collect, here is what happened!)
PS. I’m linking this to #YOLOMondays for kicks. Get in on the fun at Still Being Molly!