Now, I’m not one to balk at new things, but I came across a fruit that drive you away before you get to know it. It’s a Durian!
When I first saw this fruit, it reminded me of a porcupine, a cactus, an armadillo with a skin condition…anything but a fruit that Southeast Asians love. It doesn’t smell as inviting as an orange and, as you can see, you can’t hold it like a banana. I was surprised to learn that Durians have more fat than other fruits, but no cholesterol. Apparently, It has potassium, like bananas.
A friend, who introduced me to this fruit, said she can’t feed it to her children in its natural form, but they will eat it if it is baked into pound cake or used to flavour puddings. She just has to make sure the children don’t see it, or smell it. Her husband finds opening the husk or shell as difficult as cracking a coconut, so he doesn’t want her to buy it more than once every 3 or 4 months. When she buys it, she can’t actually bring it into her home. She leaves it outside, in a covered basket, because a Durian smells awful!
I wonder if I could use its shell for crafts. Anything that looks and smells like this should have other uses for those brave enough to eat its pulp!
We’ve become quite adept, in Australia, when it comes to understanding and using many Asian fruit and vegetables. Travel has introduced us to new products in their home countries, getting to taste and understand them in local recipes. Immigration has also bought a demand for these products locally, making them more readily available.
My favourite story is still the April Fools day joke played on an unwitting British public by the BBC in 1957, where they were presented with a three minute documentary showing the annual spaghetti tree harvest, hard to believe how easily they fell for it. In this internet era we may think we know everything, but, just as a lychee or rambutan may once have left us scratching our heads, there are still a multitude of fruits and vegetables that most of us have not yet heard of, and even less likely to understand.
Due to their distance, Africa and South America are probably the best places yet, to get that real challenge: try and source these 3 delights for starters, and reinvent your recipes.
The African Horned Cucumber – described as the ‘blowfish fruit’, tasting like a cucumber meets zucchini.
Cherimoya – a cross between a pineapple and banana, also described as tasting of bubblegum.
Aguajefruit – covered in reddish scales, it is an excellent source of Vitamin C, treats burns and makes a delicious wine.
Over the last few years British supermarkets have gone to some increasingly bizarre lengths to gain customer interest. The main chains have continued to try and outdo each other in the creation of fruit and vegetables you wouldn’t even begin to imagine you needed, let alone the question of ‘what do I do with it’ (or as some like to say – why the bl**y h*ll!).
News in the last week caught my attention, that Tesco (one of the largest chains) has unveiled this years winner – an apple that’s pink inside. Maintaining a pale yellow skin, it’s when you bite in that you get the surprise. a pale pink colouring that looks more like someone got to the dye gun first.
This made me remember the other more epic attempts to gain our attention, the most notable in my opinion being the ‘bubbleberry‘ – resembling a small strawberry, yet with that unmistakable taste of bubblegum, perfect for afternoon teas (if you’re the Mad Hatter). And while it may sound equally bizarre, in 2008 Morrisons gave us the red banana that was actually sourced from a plantation rather than a chemistry lab, and tasted like raspberries.
I wonder if Australia will ever get in on this game – wouldn’t it be fun to come up with our own creations to export to an unsuspecting world. I’m thinking Vegemite flavoured bananas, maybe a passionfig, or best of all green and gold tomatoes.