Why Hello There, and welcome to Kitchen Catastrophes! Today’s feature was spawned deep in the fetid depths of Jon’s mind weeks ago, and lurked until it was ripe to burst forth. About 3-4 weeks ago, Jon was in a Safeway, and he ran into these:
Those are called “cherimoya”, sometimes called “custard Apples”. Technically a “true” custard apple is a cousin of the cherimoya, but whatever. There’s like 60 kinds of normal apples, so a variety of custard apples is fine. I didn’t buy it, because that day I happened to be really broke. But a week later, I wandered into a Safeway across the state, and saw another weird fruit, the “kiwano melon”.
I noticed these things because one of the components of my food obsession reveals itself in a kind of boring way; one I alluded to in the Chip-In post: I spend a longer than usual amount of time in groceries stores, just…analyzing. Watching new trends unfold, exploring corners, etc. For instance, I discovered where the frozen food for Hispanic families is in my local Safeway last time. And I don’t mean Mexican FOODS, no, I mean like, the frozen bags of tripe, beef heart, and chitterlings. I found that the prepared dinners section had 3 new rows of Indian food. A restaurant I had seen on a travel Channel show was called out on a Hot Pocket Box. What does this mean? Nothing, really. I mean, it’s all one man’s observations of maybe 2-3 locations done twice a month. It’s far too narrow a subset to make any sustainable conclusions, though there IS enough for semi-informed conjecture. (For instance, I suspect the growing presence of Indian foods means the market for an informal Indian restaurant may be growing, especially if the new Fast Ferry service starting next week ends up being a success.)
But the main result is simply motivating me to try new things: I see something I don’t recognize, or do recognize, but have never been able to consume, so I try it. And today, we’re diving fully into that experience: on Monday, I picked up 5 fruits I’d never consumed fresh/raw, and myself and my family tried them all! Here’s our discussion and opinions about them.
Papaya: much more fun to say than to eat.
A quick Google search tells me that these are supposed to be the sweetest of the papayas, a claim that is meaningless to me, since I’ve never had ANY papaya raw. Also, this plan started unraveling around me at this juncture: originally, the plan had been for Nate and I to try all of these alone, just flailing wildly. However, as we started to cut into the papaya, my dad walked in, so we offered him some.
Also, we had no idea how to judge if any of these fruits were ripe, overripe, nor did we know how to process them beforehand: we just googled “how do I prepare X” for each new fruit. For most of them, we did what I think of as the “avocado” trick, cutting a grid into the meat, and flexing the skin inward.
Dad: (tastes it) “It tastes good. It doesn’t have like, a bright real fruity flavor.”
Nate: “To me, this tastes like the flavor I would get if I asked a computer for generic ‘fruit’ flavor.”
Jon: “It’s like a calm version of cantaloupe. Kind of creamy.”
Nate: “Definitely got that melony, cantaloupe flavor.“
At this point, my mother entered, and was offered a taste.
Mom: (apparently the only one who knows what she’s doing)” Well, papaya should taste like a sweet carrot.“
We agree this is roughly like that, as she picks up a slice.
Mom: “Hmm. Feels like it might be a little too ripe.”
We laugh, having already prefaced to dad that we have no idea if these are ripe, as mom eats.
Mom: “Pretty good.”
Just like normal dragons: spectacular on the outside, mostly bland filler on the inside.
Now, I’ve had dragonfruit before, and let me warn you good people, like I didn’t warn my family: despite looking rad as shit, it’s really not that impressive. It’s fine, but not amazing.
Jon: “So, this one you normally eat like a kiwi, just scooping it out with a spoon.”
Dad: “Hmm. I don’t like it. It tastes kinda grassy. Like, a hint of grass or vegetation.”
Mom: “It tastes kind of like sweetened cream of wheat.”
Nate: “Not even SWEETENED. This is like if someone took everything GOOD out of eating kiwi.”
Mom: “Which is weird-“
Nate: “Because, like, Dragonfruit Sobe are real intense.”
Nate: “So I was expecting something intense. This is just…lies.”
My family thought it was funny how the folded back skin of the pear made it look like my mother had flayed open her own palm. If you're unsure why that's funny, maybe don't spend too much time around us.
This one is notable, because the site we read said you can strain out the seeds “if you don’t like them”, and generally gave us the impression that this was a sort of watermelon situation, with soft, ignorable seeds. Instead, they’re like tiny unpopped popcorn kernels: you’re not getting through those without risking some tooth integrity.
Jon: (bites in) “umh. Seeds’re bad.”
Dad: “Yeah, these seeds are rough. The flavor’s okay, though.”
Mom: “Mhm. And it’s pretty seedy, too.”
Nate: “It tastes kind of like cherries.”
He steps to the garbage can to spit the seeds out.
Nate: “This is cool, at least. I feel like a boxer, spitting out blood.”
Dad: “It is kind of cherry-like, but real mild.”
I join Nate to spit my seeds out, as we move to.
Also known as "Ugly Limes."
Jon : (reading Google) “ The guava should be soft. Softer is better.”
Mom & Nate: “real soft, so good.”
Jon: “Smell it, it should smell sweet and a little musky.”
Nate: “Definitely accurate.”
Jon: “ It says the rind is edible, so just wash the outside, and cut it into slices or wedges.”
Mom starts to wash it as I continue.
Jon: “Some people like to season their guava with…soy sauce?”
Nate: “WOOO” (immediately goes to fridgefor the sauce.)
Dad: “I’m not gonna eat the skin.” (Gets handed a slice, skin trimmed off, pops it into his mouth.) “Hmm. This tastes kinda like bananas.
Jon: “This texture is weird as shit. Like, the inner meat is shuper shoft. I totally get the banana comparison. But these seeds are like little rocks!”
Mom: “Did it say anything about the seeds?”
Mom: “Maybe we got a different variety.”
Nate has poured himself a dipping bowl of soy sauce, and hits it with the guava.
Nate: “Hmm. That’s like…that first bite of tempura. You know, the sweet potato one? Or the other one, same texture?”
At this point, Nate entices Jon to start trying past fruits with the soy, because his love of soy sauce is more accurately named an “addiction”. The Papaya works surprisingly well.
Also, I reveal that I have definitely swallowed at least one seed from every fruit so far except the papaya, and proclaim that if my stomach erupts into a tropical forest, I want a monkey.
I don't have a picture of the mango flesh, because at this point, my hands were growing ever stickier from fruit consumption.
Champagne Mangoes, also called *inhales deeply* baby mangoes, honey mangoes, Ataulfo mangoes, Adolfo mangoes, yellow mangoes, or Adualfo mangoes, are a cultivar from Mexico. They’re apparently the second most popular kind of mango. I was unaware there WERE multiple kinds, but there you go.
Nate: “I don’t know if I’ll like this. I’m not the biggest fan of dried mangoes.”
Jon: “Dried Mangoes taste pretty different from fresh.”
Dad: (only hearing Jon) “Dried Mangoes are pretty good!”
Nate: “Thanks for undercutting me. I JUST said- wait, why are these called champagne Mangoes? Are they grown in the Champagne region of France? Because otherwise, I’m pretty sure they should be “sparkling wine” mangoes.
Dad takes a piece.
Dad: “It’s pretty tart. It’s strangely…tart. I don’t know how else to describe it.”
He immediately farts, rendering the rest of our ability to taste somewhat compromised.
Jon: (eating quickly) It’s…calmer than a normal mango. Not as bright.
My mother has cut the flesh away, as Nate begins a series of references to the fact my father farted, disguised as tasting notes. “There’s a hint of upper colon”, and so on. Far too crass for this respected publication.
I try another piece, and discover the fruit is tarter closer to the seed. Which, since my mother has just started taking the flesh left over ON the seed, means she is getting a notably different profile.
Nate: “You know, I think only mom will get this, but this is like the uni of fruit.”
Jon: “Hey, I know what uni is.”
Nate: “Have you eaten it?”
Nate: “See, you don’t-“
Jon: “You mean it’s like…salty, right?”
Nate: “Yes. Prickly, and ocean dwelling.”
Jon: “The gonads of a fish.”
Nate: “Highly revered by the Japanese.”
Jon: “ ‘Tastes like a mermaid’s kiss’. Sure.”
With this, we had eaten all of them. Nate embarked further on his soy-venture, dipping everything in the soy, then mixing things and dipping them in the soy, with…generally regrettable results. The combination of Mango, Papaya and soy was noted for “Having the taste and consistency of right before you spit out a big ol’ loogie.” So his culinary insights are really growing.
TOMORROW: JON STARTS A WEEKEND PROMOTION OF CUTENESS. CHECK OUT FACEBOOK AT NOON PST TO LEARN MORE.
MONDAY: JON MIGHT MAKE SOME MOCO. DEPENDS ON HIS SCHEDULE. STAY TUNED.