12 Seasons of Roman Vegetables and Fruit

Romans truly eat by season. They get excited by what is only available at certain times of the year. Of course, all year, there are imported vegetables and fruit in Rome, but the Romans still find joy in the seasonality of fresh vegetables. And, it seems like chicory is always in season…

Three types of asparagus with the expensive wild version in the front.

Cicoria (chi-CORE-E-ah) or chicory is “Italian dandelion” and is a bitter green leafy vegetable that looks a bit like spinach. If you live in the U.S. and want to plant some for your self, this farm sells the seeds.

January: puntarelle (puhn-tah-R-ALE-eh), or cicoria di catalogna or cicoria asparago (although no one in Rome uses these names) is in the chicory family but looks more like a thick stemmed dandelion. The Romans eat the white stems, cut to curl up, in a salad with an anchovy garlic dressing — like a zero-carb caesar salad. No cheese. In other parts of Italy, puntarelle are cooked. In Rome, only the trimmings are cooked as part of a general vegetable stew. But, the white inner stems are the treasure.

The first stage of the preparation of puntarelle.
Puntarelle ready for dressing.

March: agretti, asparagi selvatici (wild asparagus), fava beans, and artichokes. Wild asparagus are slimmer and have a stronger taste. Agretti (Salsola Soda, opposite-leaved saltwort, opposite leaf Russian thistle, Roscano, or barilla plant) is almost unknown in the English speaking world, although recently becoming a bit of a thing with chefs.

Agretti
Peas and fava beans are both eaten fresh and raw when young. Fava beans are eaten with pecorino cheese.

April: Strawberries, agretti (monk’s beard), peas, beans, and small artichokes.

May: Peas, beans, spring onions, garlic chives, etc.

June: Apricots, peaches, green beans, potatoes, etc.

July: Melons, peaches, plums, nectarines, pears, lettuce, etc.

August: This was hard to figure out as most of the markets close in August… but at the back of the Trionfale market, there are still some zero kilometer farmers who sell their produce. So it’s all about peaches, cucumbers, pears, walnuts, water melons, cantaloup melons (called so because they were grown in Cantalupo just outside Rome), lettuce, grapes, nectarines, plums, and apples.

Apples

September: Pears, apples, figs, melons, lettuce, broccoli tops, pumpkins, pumpkin greens, plums, peppers, chiles, peaches, and grapes.

Pumpkin greens

October: pumpkin, potatoes, gourds, squash, nuts, cabbage, lettuce, and peppers.

November: potatoes, clementines, and nespole/medlars.

Medlars which one eats when they are brown and toffee like.

December: puntarelle, artichokes, and clementines.

clementines

Every restaurant will have “seasonal vegetable” on the menu and it will always be cicoria/chicory greens. Very healthy. One of the nice things about living in Rome is that it is possible to eat pesticide free food and in a perpetual “farmer’s market” all year round. I have to admit that I’m excited for artichoke season after not having artichokes for six months.

Pithy Lemons of Sorrento

Campania, Sorrento, and regular lemon.

For my fruit fetishist friends, I will try many strange fruits. The Sorrento lemon is not so strange. It’s just big and pithy. The rind can be consumed and it does not have a strong taste. The rind is mostly used for candied fruit. The taste of the Sorrento lemon is much like a normal lemon. What is strange is biting into it like one would an apple.

The Campania lemon is rounder with a think orangish rind. It has a strong aroma but is not as tasty as a Sorrento lemon. Sorrento is in Campania so technically it’s also a lemon from Campania but it’s the equivalent of Champagne or sparkling wine.

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).

Note: If you prefer to watch this blog article as a video, click here for my YouTube channel.

East Asian Grocery Stores in Rome

This article is mainly about the Chinese and Korean (and Philippine) grocery stores in Rome (there are many Bangladeshis in Rome and many run the local produce shops). For more, read this blogger’s post on the Asian grocery stores in Rome. Almost all the Asian grocery stores are located near the Termini train station where there are many other Chinese shops selling non-food items. This area also has stores with supplies from parts of Africa and other parts of the world.

I get lots of questions about where to buy cilantro, as it is a big part of Southeast Asian cuisine and Mexican food, so I’ll include a point about that (it tastes like soap to me so I can’t stand it. Someone should start an Instagram just for cilantro…)

Back to the Asian stores. One thing that all these stores sell is a plethora of ramen. Who knew there were so many types?

This a tiny segment of the walls of ramen.

Asia Supermarket, Via Ricasoli 20: The entrance/exit is badly planned, and this shop is bigger than it appears. Fresh vegetables, fresh tofu, cooking utensils, fish sauce, etc.

Xin Ye Gruppo, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II 34: Mostly dry goods but it’s bigger than it looks so you can find rice paper, ground cumin, fresh ginger, soldering tools, and bowls, etc.

Tapioca pasta balls for “bubble” tea.

La Famiglia (Korean store), Via Filippo Turati 102: Located in a courtyard, you must leave the busy street and go into the building’s courtyard. Mostly Korean goods. No fresh vegetables.

When you see the sign, that’s where the entrance is located.
Enter and the Korean store is located in the right hand corner.

The Korean Market, Via Cavour 84: Mainly frozen and dry foods from Korea and Japan. Owners are Korean.

This store has the fanciest address on a main street. All items imported from Korea.

Nuovo Mercato Esquilino, Via Principe Amedeo 184: Famous ethnic market of Rome. It’s more like a suq or wet market.

Bok choy from my local South Asian vendor. Ask and they can usually provide. Plus, most South Asians speak English.

Unknown name, Philippino corner store, Via Calatafirmi 14/a (the street intersects with itself and this shop is on the corner – on google, it appears as Hotel Papagermano): This small shop sells dried foods but also jarred kimchi. This kimchi is the one that I like to eat.

Kimchi from Korea

Trionfale market, Via Andrea Doria 41 (this is not near the Termini station and is located north of the Vatican, in Prati): There are several stalls that specialize in Asian vegetables and foods, so you can find what you will need there. If you enter from the Via Andrea Doria main entrance, the staff is on your right (box # 238) almost the minute you enter the market. The stall also has noodles and other items that you might need.

Cilantro, ginger, noodles, fish sauce…

Testaccio Market, Via Aldo Munazio 66b (every taxi driver knows where the market is located, or should). Has parking: Also carries cilantro at times. There is an herb staff (stall #34) that has it. Cilantro is “coriandolo” in Italian.

Noodles, pasta, and snacks.

Many of the markets are beginning to sell exotic fruits and vegetables, and many grocery stores sell a few “international” items. I’ll update this article as I discover more.

Poo-pooing the Paw-Paw

“Have you heard of the paw paw?”

“Yes, it’s what Australians call the papaya.”

But, it’s not just that! The paw paw is also a native American fruit. Native to the eastern United States and related to the custard apple, soursop, and cherimoya, the American papaw (or paw paw, pawpaw, or paw-paw) is a fruit that looks like a mango but is slightly custardy. It supposedly tastes like a banana-mango-pineapple. The paw paw was also called the prairie banana.

Apparently, the paw paw is the largest native American fruit (0ther than gourds which are classed as vegetables). There are efforts to harvest the paw paw has no known pests. But, the fruit ripens quickly to fermentation so it is best used for jam and in other prepared foods.

Ohio botanist William B. Werthner noted that:

“The fruit … has a tangy wild-wood flavor peculiarly its own. It is sweet, yet rather cloying to the taste and a wee bit puckery.”

I am not a very adventurous eater, but, for the sake of my fruit-ologist friend, I was willing to try it. It didn’t taste like much.

Once I get to Italy, I wonder what fruits will be new to me? I certainly didn’t expect to find a new fruit in the United States, so I hope I will be equally surprised.

48 Hours of Eating in Mexico City

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La Condesa Azul

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Toppings! Including mashed potato with chilies for your taco.

Then head to El Moro for a fried churro, but really, go for the ice cream. It’s served as one of the famous churro ice cream sandwiches, but I just scooped it out — it was sprinkled with speckles of vanilla dots.

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Everything but the oink at El Progreso.

Have their hot chocolate too. It’s a tradition. But, I was liked the ice cream. Call me a heathen!

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Ant egg omelet. The little white and brown things are the ant eggs.

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Sanborn’s grand hall.

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This Sanborn’s waitress had the most forlorn passive aggressive upsales technique. It was amusing. You almost wanted to fall for it.

For lunch, head downtown and eat at the Sanborns de los Azulejos. The building is made up of blue tile and hard to miss. If you eat in the salon on the Cinco de Mayo side, it’s got a soda fountain feel and very local. If you eat in the grand salon on the Francisco Madero, you will have a long wait but the pay off is eating in a GRAND HALL.

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From Lardo: Banana split. So yummy.

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The drink  guy at Lardos.

For dinner, try Lardo, for a feeling of being in Spain. Don’t get the deep fried green beans and you’ll be okay. Good cocktails and people watching.

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The hot chocolate cart at Azul Condesa.

The Oaxacan ladies making tortillas are still the most beautiful part of an already pretty restaurant.

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I love a simple dessert. Soft merengue cream (some fruit flavor) and red berry sauce.

Along the way, eat corn on  the cob, spiced chips with lime, and sliced fruit with chili! If you need more, try the tacos in a basket (mainly to see what the hullabaloo is about), and if you must, go to Maison Kaiser for a French pastry.

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And I finally got to see some mariachi!

10 Unusual Fruits To Try In Peru

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  1. Lucuma: orange colored flesh and a green or brown peel. It’s got a taste that is very special, but the closest I can think of is a sort of butterscotch pumpkin flavor. Truly a Peru specific fruit. VOEPnZgVZsEJscpjjTsE3kwIkVDwrlJRk-CmFm1pKepZSLsrLVCHrui3EK7ZyRqwqEvkFNa085ZSImk3S5pD1VAKjXNydEz6selFE_Rtzl3vvIOGk3RlVDyBbfiQH8rtdmiM3MBpbQez4QvyvsBLquZxcQO8optUeogNe8z2dKw2p30FOCAwiJ2lfK
  2. Aguaymanto/goldenberry: These are the yellow fruit with the size and texture of a cherry tomato but a flavor and tartness all their own. These have a carapace which makes people think they are mini tomatillos. TLKk_mF_3kLVCleAICDT0HrWES6ZCQ42KEIgRkqEBj0by6l2jmkVYCkqZJN6oVRZ84Vtq8EgReIfAdyk9b-726-DYTQYgsUxcyuGUiZEX_GqDiw3ToC0-vUlUrzmAFjPdme8YgRS1c790vpcQK63zI_CGP7nfJZxjRb37-inCMTiO3hkiJZd-l6Pb5
  3. Maracuya: Here in Peru, the passionfruit is a common juice choice and used often in a pisco drink. It’s got a heady fragrant drive-you-mad sort of aroma. The purple wrinkled passionfruit that is sold in the U.S. was created by “marrying” the tumbo and the larger passionfruit used in South America. (top right in the first photo – a large yellow fruit cut open in this photo)
  4. Granadilla: these are shaped like maracas and in Colombia, the kids crack them open on their foreheads. Then suck the snotty seeds out or use a spoon. (lower right in first photo, cracked open)
  5. Camu camu: another fruit that everyone says is good for you. From the jungle. Small plum like fruit used for juice. (see drawing in lower photo)
  6. Cherimoya: also called a custard apple in other parts of the world. (the pale green things next to the avocados)_6nCMxDTzOIExIZLSOJYo0MjeB2wzA4DTl3PFc0qFPuk0TO0YyeJqq7_DEmKIRSG5_i6cQrASX2IXnQCMnTf7JhsYl7w8XD_nqBvRqnUdYtjaKWu_SNgYU5fyFGhDQlzWsO1R6_FJcjlzWg7lFIZYA5uoXcm-5SBiXpbjPF54Gd6x1sxit4HIIzpkc
  7. Tumbo: the older form of passionfruit. Considered the “male” or “dad” when someone created the wrinkled purple passionfruit. (it’s a cucumber shape in the middle of the top photo)
  8. Mamey: Or zapote, is a bright orange pumpkin textured fruit the size of a melon. (to the right of the pepino melons below)hmwIoFLbJwCiIlAUgs75gU2gcBfeKlV6vaWHbGxAe-kMT-wuKjyzFAmO_Wa42FnvarCn-wg6jN1oYYjwyDFH_e6xe9jxzCySC9Bd437zhM1jT-AryGoS9-9ImwFBtvCWHiw_3Y2BZj4C977ONmk1zmsnF0mLdjGvQoi8nmKqoTwtXfJlOyM6C94Sx9
  9. Aguaje: these look like brown armadillo eggs. Inside the fruit is bright yellow. I was told, by a taxi driver, that these fruit are “good for women and that in the jungle, homosexuals will eat them to become more feminine”. (see drawing at bottom)
  10. Tuna: is it the fish of the desert? Tuna is cactus fruit of which the Dragon Fruit is the flashy but less flavorful cousin.
  11. Pepino melon: a smallish striped melon. (see photo above with zapotes)
  12. Sauco: is elderberry
  13. Platano de la isla: It’s what they call the sweet banana (as opposed to the plantain type of banana). A “seda” or silk banana is like the bananas in the U.S.

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As I find my photos of these fruits, I’ll add them. So check back! I will try that aguaje!

Then there is also noni which has a cheesy aftertaste.dkCFw-js4R4B1CuZYNVZoDTrSW8N3MUkQ8OSKhmDHuOU11QqwqXdd-3YwnMsvr8Y8BaMjxWosFb0PJUCL-CFLCnOVGnbIuhznUGSFF2fn_vlPTqEt0IE5PgSDM4HV01gFU6SDZ1T3zpyJh7DXx50gn02aXHwiP6ciJZdVlafYrh7Vf0LIgxffP82aR

And these?pE6mzpO5zAn06Q_Upj8DqNoXgOZXSzm1EjziCJg4p3993ROU6DSIhoqbKA1IiR7Jz8YuwK2UfIzrP_UlB1dTYJ8UWx_nOMhhXFzxq7gmZ0LpYgKyL53wzbwpvLTZW73pEzPYKOQdDVah1u0H_1G5R6woQANYHy9IT4xPL8_2ShR4er-o5eZ19IwSWw

 

 

Trini Food – Trinidad and Tobago Foods

1XMd9O31H87nvZP8RkqIkYecnQY0_lIOd7nAM2wJLqi5vtmgezIT8cgCVdTuS3NTl0BLKGcMSkFM5SfCr39ejG0ndK7GeHAzLCjsflR7KbiZlmG5JLl_k3-yeD9Q_TrSofKhkbBKaKxGqa5jb2m_mM91Z6DFR0fX4MQ2FBsIeq9ApJTbc4ADJ3S3_jTrying the food in Trinidad requires learning the vocabulary:

Pepper (said, “pehpah”) sauce: made from pureed Scotch Bonnet chili peppers. In the lingo of the today, “they don’t play” in “scoville” here. This pepper sauce is flame-thrower hot. Tread lightly. When ordering pepper sauce, it’s “light, medium, and heavy.”

Doubles: this is the most famous of Trini foods. It’s eaten for breakfast and is comprised of two (hence the name) pieces of fried flatbread topped with cooked chickpeas (garbanzos) in curry, with sauces (see one in hand in photo above). Some of the sauces are pepper/chili sauce and some vendors have their own tamarind sauce to add a sweetness to the mix. At most doubles stands, there are two lines. One for eat-in and one for take-out. The take-out line takes longer as the doubles are wrapped in wax paper. The eat-in line is faster partly because some people will eat six to seven doubles at one time. Now, apparently, there are places serving “triples.” You pay after you have eaten.

Buss up shut: A dish of Indian origin with a large stretchy roti in two layers (inside is a think powdery layer inside) which is ripped up to resemble a ripped shirt. Hence the name.

Roti: is a flat stretchy bread. Eaten with curry (curry goat, curry chicken, etc.).

Callaloo soup: Also very popular. Callaloo is a vegetable. The soup is fairly thick and looks a bit like stewed collard greens.

Crab and dumpling (it is a large pasta piece, no filling). See below. In a curry sauce.

3o1c6kXt2yvG80I1bXZDYx3GhkA1NgNhXBNYIMoy7tORy6EbnZE5WR0FYAUCBobfFISTjinHLMSsu68p6c0leuzRx58DWXQ9vGc1nGbseVQh6FhJIWumRT3MmxQMdQ7eOJd84uB18y-doDV7gTyt1k4B2JmUqOUpYWW7anfv_JeKA9jjG6eghaAjjrBodi: is the Indian name for long green beans.

Channa: is lentils.

atdjzIOw3_8VhLbOHW663vXaoc0FLR15Nmfdy7KGhxt36Uvtr_e4mVN-MYHz6QT8YXKVqHsXyDrCoujwOfxDfAaEzuTuH_wR_SKNlOQe72QdC8rAzEwoVjZ2PjKvqGZCvQ0XZJF1seKPTrmnkcMWgY2fZf7VXS1019ctBSs3HvZdyJgNSGyjfRp1gyDasheen bush choka: dasheen is another name for callaloo and when it is stewed, it becomes a dish called choka.

Fry Bake: is fried flat bread usually served as a breakfast sandwich with dried salt cod or smoked herring. Both taste slightly fishy so I’d recommend getting them with a good amount of pepper sauce.

Pl8SeAZ0KtSUysAl90Cn-pUP4y7Ctcw_oJHuDan0DdZavcR-yqk2mudunhojJyQLINBL67E7jV5LYCvXCHfPeaZ8CSnS8Opvbm98wpOw3Kdu0qk5tEwQEc8YQTrGYK5-kBrW4Nd166TtV_U_ycSEM-64w5a3NWIRNxDVFR2y3VV_4Q_ToPx8nit9rdBake and Shark: is a fish sandwich like a po’ boy in the U.S. The most famous place for this is Richard’s in Maracas Bay. Stop for some pineapple chow.

Chow: is fruit in a slightly spicy brine.

QDmsKqtmioCSImhaUi0XnFl5RPsKBnp59i6jZBUsVIKqTVCdjMo-rC-ZnUSYA7JWX389sFbdgLbuGqNLDnOQXEmcH1W_i3XoSrLNVbOpn2MTXg7LUPOqmLM09bub5TyLrpLnBuzMK9D_kTTz0ndQiZWRiF3o7rvCHgmIhdBz4Vp17Q8e6JvHIHN4FVOil down: is a stew much like chicken and dumplings in flavor but often made with pigtail. As seen here, it is served with “provisions” which are dumplings, plaintains, breadfruit, potatoes, and other carbohydrate-rich foods.

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Macaroni pie: like mac and cheese but cut in squares.

The drinks of Trinidad and Tobago are plentiful. They drink rum and more rum. I was told that the best rum here was Angostura. They also have a ‘punch’ which is made up of all kinds of other alcohol so strong enough to punch you down for a day or two. One person I talked to told me that he had something to drink that was so strong that it made him stop drinking! Again, the national pastime seems to be “to lime” which is to hang out somewhere to drink.

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I did not have cow heel soup which is also a famous Trini food. It’s a thick soup made with cow hoof.

100 Fruits in Colombia

12045302_10153648238159618_515981556999707268_oAs I mentioned, I planned to try 100 new (to me) fruits while in Colombia. Here they are.

Uchuva (cape gooseberry/yellow berry): These cherry-sized yellow fruit inside a paper cover (they look like small yellow tomatillos) have an aroma that I can’t describe (a subtle tomato-ish aroma), are slightly sour, and have a tomato-like texture. img_3630

Lulo: This fruit is unique to this part of the world (grows in Ecuador and Peru as well). The Colombians have really made it part of their daily juice selection (fresh juice is a part of daily life here). The lulo looks like a tomato but is super sour so only used for juice. The juice is greenish in color even though the fruit is orange. img_6600

Pitaya (yellow dragon fruit): This fruit could change the world. I call it the “110-minute fruit”… as in, you know where you will be 110 minutes after you’ve eaten it. I like to scoop out the insides sort of like eating a kiwi. It is part of the cactus family. img_6597

Maracuya (passion fruit): When I went on the fruit tour, I learned that the passion fruit sold in the U.S. is the brown version created by mixing a “mom” and a “dad” fruit. In the photo, the big round greenish one on the right is the “mom” and the long narrow one on the left is the “dad” (called a “caruba”) and the one in the center is the one I think of as a passion fruit.img_7999

Tree tomato: I tried three different kinds of tree tomato in Colombia. They don’t have much flavor and look like long narrow tomatoes. img_6599

Chirimoya (custard apple): This green pear shaped fruit that looks a bit like an artichoke is a surprise. 10421300_10153347353934618_6551906275350936819_n1

Kumquat: Looks like a grape-sized orange. Supposedly you can eat it, rind and all. I find it very bitter.

Papayuela. The only fruit that must be boiled with sugar before consumption.905967_10153648165584618_2113259764934613346_o1

Orange: The oranges used for Colombia are often green on the outside and orange on the inside. And sweet.10295299_10153154808029618_6497864187278336944_o10649655_10152941158444618_304262838288101202_n

Mandarin: I mention these because the juice is great. Most of the mandarins I tried in Colombia were in juice form. When I would go to my favorite market, Paloquemao, the vendors would often give me a free mandarin. I appreciate the freebie but really I don’t like the mandarins because they are too papery and fibrous. But, great as juice! And so incredibly orange colored (the green juice in the back is feijoa – mentioned later)!10295925_10153141348034618_1238038620572353122_o

Zapote: Baseball size and dirt-colored. Inside is the texture of a pumpkin and it is bright orange. This is just one of the fruits you can try on the fruit tour in Bogota. img_7981

Obos: It looks like an olive and one chews around the hard seed inside. It seems like a lot of work for what you get.

Mamoncillo: Little round hard fruit a bit like lychee but without the same aroma.img_0606

Curuba zanahoria: The fruit from a palm tree. It’s a bit like a pumpkin. It needs salt, sugar, and lime juice… is it worth it?img_14371

Feijoa (pineapple guava/guavasteen): It tastes like kiwi with a soapy aroma. Not so good for those who don’t like cilantro. Used mostly for juice. Named for a Brazilian explorer.img_7994

Guayaba araca (wild acidic guava): These are yellowish and the size of an apple. The aroma of these led me to them in the produce section. Inside the flesh is pale custard color with flesh like a peach. But, they are super sour. Once I read about it, I found out that it needs to have sugar added and it needs to be diluted to 1 part juice to 10 parts water.

Granadilla: This was the go-to fruit for Colombian school kids because this is a sturdy fruit (and apparently the kids would smash it against their forehead to crack it open). 12109738_10153648238154618_4031459241144594892_o

Guamas: looks like a mega green bean pod but you just eat the inside white fluff that surrounds the beans.fullsizerender62

Carambola (starfruit): You have seen them on many a cocktail. I assume.

Papaya: This is a meat tenderizer and the Colombians eat this for breakfast — like they are trying to tenderize the night.

Pepino melon: a long attractive melon. photo53

Agraz (blackberries, but like a small bitter acai): This small berries are so bitter that they must be good for your health. 11223961_10153648176094618_8871581844640326146_o

Higos: The fruit of the cactus fruit. img_1512

Cashew fruit: The fruit of the cashew tree is great if you can get it. The nut hangs off the end of the fruit. It’s much better as a juice. img_1477

Mango: There are many sorts of mangoes. Colombia has the larger reddish kind.

Mangosteeno (mangosteen): Not from Colombia but they are very proud to grow them here. This is my favorite fruit.img_9791

Piñuela: This was a small shallot-shaped fruit. To eat it, one peels the leaves it like a banana. Inside is a white floss around a large black seed. Eat the floss. 11703215_10153432786054618_6224118621775175662_n

Yacon: I first heard of this in the U.S. as it was being used in dried form as a diet tea. It’s sold on the streets of Bogota. On the outside, this fruit looks like a dirty potato. On the inside, it looks like a pear. Sort of. 11428034_10153347356384618_6703100946318414907_n

Plantain: It is a fruit. It’s eaten like a starch. It is. But, it looks like a banana. A word about bananas in Colombia. Most of them are spotty. There are many different kinds. If you want unblemished Dole bananas, you need to buy “export” bananas. And good luck finding them. 10629567_10152764664629618_2203745753734451276_n

Breva: This fruit looked like a styrofoam. I had lots of discussions with my Colombian colleagues about what it’s actually called. I believe it has to be boiled with sugar for ten hours.11893871_10153648327319618_3449185676384618469_o

Noni: And then there were these “noni”… so ugly. Apparently, they also have to be boiled for 24 hours with sugar. I couldn’t find anyone who had ever had these.

12038856_10153648327109618_4873066923029458107_o

Actually, the rarest fruit to find in Colombia are lemons.

While researching the names of the fruits, I found this photo contest. It’s amazing to see what fruits are out there for us to try: Some links to other fruit adventurers: A blog about all kinds of things.

I did not find 100 new fruits to try, but these are a sample of the ones that I tried. Many of the new fruits were variations of other fruits. And frankly, a lot of the fruits were not very tasty and had to be boiled with sugar for 24 hours to be edible… stick with the pitaya, lulo juice, and mangosteeno.

 

Danish Strawberries

Once upon a year, in a little tiny land, at the top of Europe, there are strawberries so ruby and sweet. They arrive just after the sweet pea season. Visit Denmark in late August and you may may be able to get both. The strawberries are red like claret in the sun. Eat them fresh or covered in fresh cream. img_3802

Then, if you can find sweet peas in the pod, enjoy them as they are as succulent as crisp morning dew. But nuttier.img_3834

Oh, and they are healthy for you. How sweet is that!

Will I See You Again, Charco? A Restaurant I Will Return To In Uruguay

Warm, freshly baked rolls and olives to start the meal.
Warm, freshly baked rolls and olives to start the meal.

“How is the food?” “Delicious, but it makes me sad.” “Why?” “Because I can only eat this.” “But, we have more food in the kitchen.” “But I have only this one night.”

Smoked salmon, calamari with tartar sauce, and panko crusted shrimp with mango salsa.
Smoked salmon, calamari with tartar sauce, and panko crusted shrimp with mango salsa.

This was the conversation I had with my young waiter who looked like he had stepped out of a commercial for polo and Polo.

I had wandered around Colonia for a few hours when I heard the lap of waves at the end of a cobblestone street. Charco restaurant is down at sea level, perhaps even a bit below. They have a counter along the windows so that one can sit facing the waves while eating.

The shrimp with mango salsa.
The shrimp with mango salsa.

I managed to get a table because I wanted to eat dinner at 5 p.m. Apparently later that evening, all the (seven) tables were reserved. Charco is the “house” restaurant of a hotel. The hotel only has seven rooms (or something like that) and next time I visit Colonia, I might try to stay there.

A seat with a view.
A place setting with a view.

My seafood platter was good. I loved the fresh tart pomelo juice (I like my juice fresh and I’ve tried quite a few!).

Fresh pomelo juice in a curvacious glass.
Fresh pomelo juice in a curvacious glass.

But, what I really impressed me was the freshly baked mini breads (and the olives) which came out as an appetizer. The bread had been baked like Italian pizza with corn meal on the bottom. This helps to keep the bread from sticking to the oven but it also adds a crunchy sweetness to the rolls. Warm, buttery, and sweetly corny. All six for me!

The hotel as seen from the street.
The hotel as seen from the street.

When I chatted with the waiter, who spoke beautiful English, I asked him if he was from Colonia. He was. I asked if he had seen some of the world. He had. I asked if he thought that Colonia was the best town in the world. That was why he came back.

A mysterious door at the end of a street. Don't resist!
A mysterious door at the end of a street. Don’t resist!