The Round Cucumber of Puglia

When researching my book about Italian food, I discovered the round melon cucumber of Puglia. It was described as a cross between a melon and a cucumber.

I was eager to try it and I thought I would have to wait till I could travel to Puglia. But, one day at the Campo de Fiori market, I saw it. The cucumber tastes like a mild cucumber (even milder) but has the shape of a melon. The rind is slightly leathery and I actually liked the way it has a pleasant chewiness.

Imagine if these were grown without seeds? They would be perfect for sandwiches. Never mind that, after my terrible encounter with a normal Italian cucumber back in November, I was just happy that this one didn’t bite my tongue off with bitterness. I had a Greek salad the other day, and the cucumber was equally bitter.

I didn’t expect the cucumbers to be bitter in Italy. But, then again, Romans like bitter greens like chicory so why not bitter cucumber (not to be confused with bitter gourd).

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Do You Dare?

Tempt Montezuma? Or the belly of Delhi? When I tried 100 restaurants in Dhaka, Bangladesh, people would ask me how I avoided getting “Delhi belly” or “Montezuma’s revenge” — I have some basic policies. First, I follow my gut (ha! Had to be said!). If it smells like death on a plate, then I don’t eat it (gym socks, sure. Death, no.). I drank lots of water. And to that end… Frank, it it wants OUT… I let it out…

ojFaE_rDb005jRFaDDEZGL18yZuB_9dNWbn1WFcKZW6wOVHWAH7rF5qthwF_ghqFjeffKe8x0YszSuZaPd7FIzwNM_rbDJJu2m-aulUBTGtnQa04Am8JT_44aPQqwFst_27d9pDZU3zd7Is6FmxGZIhjfx28N85MJF32abjHeS_dJrsf8tRd1uJKGBack to the food cart here in my barrio… I am not willing to try every street food cart in the world, but, when I see a crowd lined up waiting, I have to go over and see what they are eating. As you can see, this vendor doesn’t even need to move the cart out to the street. It just stays in her driveway.

wQuKgbVQtFYauDvDyTY0s3OlWVU7EHSijKc5Xa36ESHJqJi2kKLsj9MOWdpddH3ZZfpmcRKYwD2SBkOTJnaucs1DkKFYYc-Z6b81wQ0r8DEK_RAE0QADeZvDWrdDIAgpRN7Z70PBrKVyUzgv_F3K45e0Le5AwMED66di7xKpZ5_E_eAJXtZ11bNyGThe other evening, I saw a crowd, again. So I went over to take photos. As you can see, they sell hotdogs, wings, breast, and mussels? Now, I just need to find someone who’s willing to try it…