Monday, March 23, 2009

Thirteen weird fruits and veggies

If one believes that any publicity is good publicity, then being called a weird fruit or vegetable is fantastic publicity.

The following is an excerpt from an ABC news report, originally broadcasted Wednesday, March 18, 2009.

Consumers might think of these fruits and vegetables as unusual, uncommon or simply strange.

The interest in exotic fruits and vegetables has increased due to the existence of The Food Network and the fact that North Americans have traveled far and wide in the last ten years with the tropics being a popular destination.
Wanting to replicate a particular taste tried on a cruise ship or in a great restaurant in distant locale are reasons why shoppers gravitate toward less conventional forms of produce.

The next time you're in the supermarket, give these produce items a closer look.

Chayote Squash
Pronounced chi-yo-tay, this squash is also known as a vegetable pear in some parts of the world, a christophine in the Caribbean or a mirliton to Louisianians. No matter what name you call it, the chayote squash has a pear shape and smooth apple-green skin that you peel off.
When you cut open a chayote squash, there's a pit inside that is edible. The vegetable has a mild taste similar to a cross between a zucchini and a cucumber. Used raw or cooked, the gourd is available year-round and can be grated over a salad or roasted, steamed, grilled, baked or stuffed.
Chayote squash is a mainstay in Hispanic cuisines and familiar in Asian cooking.

Resembling a shrunken orange but more oval than round, kumquats came to us from China, where they were named for the Cantonese words meaning yellow-orange. These cute fruits have a bright-orange color and are the size of large grapes.
What makes the bite-sized kumquat unique among the citrus family is that you can eat the whole thing from the sweet-tasting rind to the tart pulp interior.
Consumed whole or sliced, kumquats can be added to salads, used to thicken sauces or dressings or made into a jelly or jam. You can eat or remove their tiny seeds and they're more prominent in supermarkets during the winter months. Kumquats are a delicious way to sneak in some vitamin C.

The starfruit has a waxy, yellow-green skin and lots of interesting angles -- five of them actually. Lovers of warm climates, these tropical wonders have long been cultivated throughout Southeast Asia and are now grown in south Florida and Hawaii. When you cut the fruit crosswise, the slices are shaped like stars.

Wonderfully sweet and crunchy at the same time, they even have a little tang. The vitamin-C laden starfruit is very full of water and is juicy like a watermelon with a crunchy texture similar to cucumber. You can eat the skin and the juicy flesh, just skip the seeds.

Ugli Fruit
You should not judge this fruit by its cover. Beneath its mottled greenish-yellow skin and strange shape lies a surprisingly sweet and juicy orangey flesh with few seeds. The outside skin is thick as are the membranes inside the fruit. But you can extract the fruit by cutting the sections with a knife, and then including them in a fruit salad, eating them as you would a grapefruit, or adding them to a chicken dish.

Sometimes called a Uniq fruit, ugli fruit comes from Jamaica and lacks the tartness of a grapefruit. It's very sweet like a tangerine and easy to peel. Whoever thought of the name did a really good job.