I’m as curious as I am lazy. When I was strolling through a farmers market recently, I stumbled upon some produce that I knew nothing about. So I bought it, after peppering folks for whatever information they were willing to give me. This bounty cost me all of $3. Well within the price-range to satisfy my curiosity.
First, the baby bananas. I knew what those were. But I’d read “Banana” by Dan Koeppel recently and have been fascinated by this humble fruit ever since. In the book he talks about the hundreds of varieties of bananas in the world, of which I’ve tasted exactly one. When I saw these itty bitty cuties I hoped I could notch my produce belt with one more.
Alas, while delicious, these didn’t taste much different from my regular ‘ol grocery store variety. Perhaps a bit sweeter, perhaps a bit creamier, but perhaps simply wishful thinking on my part. They certainly are adorable, though. And I pretended I was a giant while eating them.
Next up were the tunas.
This is the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. Sometimes they’re called “cactus apples” or even, surprisingly, “prickly pears.” When you buy these from a vendor, they’ve done you the favor of cleaning off most of the prickles. But there are always a couple invisible ones left hiding from you, stabbing you at the most inopportune time. Prickles, not vendors.
I saw a man buy one, peel it and bite into it as he walked, but I wasn’t that brave. I needed more information.
Turns out, the red ones are sweeter than the green, but the green ones are easier to peel. Maybe it has something to do with the ripeness. Or maybe it was my technique … or lack thereof.
To peel, you simply slice off a bit from the top and the bottom, make a slit down the side, then pull off the peel.
So easy! The red one was a different story, though!
The peel of the red one had to be painstakingly plucked, a bit at a time. But finally … success!
The green one tasted like mild melon, the red more like kiwi. But see all those seeds? They’re like little rocks. And there are lots of them. Very annoying. If I had a juicer, though, I’d be all over juicing these things. They’re so delicious, but those seeds are a deal-breaker for me. Clearly, though, not for other people, like the guy walking through the farmers market eating them.
Next up I’ll share my adventure with the cactus leaves. These are, obviously, the leaves or paddles from the prickly pear cactus. Sometimes they’re called “cactus paddles,” “cactus pads,” or “nopales.”