Apples, oranges, bananas. Apples, oranges, bananas. Sound familiar? If you find yourself grabbing for standard fare out of habit, but wishing for the exotic, then read on. Over the past twenty-five years, the number of vegetables and fruits sold in markets in North America has tripled – as well as the confusion about how to best prepare them. As Elizabeth Schneider, a premiere specialty produce authority, states: ” There is no such thing as an inherently weird fruit or vegetable. What your Mother didn’t cook, someone else’s did.”
Unfamiliar produce can be somewhat intimidating, as can setting out to try new things and ways of thinking. With the advent of increased world trade, travel, tourism and movement of people, the introduction of many new foods is replacing a once fairly standard food menu in mainstream North America; however, even kiwi, arugula, shiitake mushrooms and plantain were once considered weird and exotic, so be prepared for a full-scale fruit and veggie invasion, coming to your town soon! Often, I am more prepared to try something new if I know a little bit about its history, nomenclature (for you scientists out there), availability, selection, preparation, storage and nutritional makeup. Since, for some of us, there are hundreds of far-out vegetables and fruits, I have picked several favorites with the encouragement that you will explore some others for yourself. Whether the plant is imported from the tropics, grows wild in your backyard, or is newly cultivated in North America, I hope it will soon become common in your culinary vocabulary. Onward ho!
- Broccoli raab (Brassica rapa, subspecies parachinensis)
- Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus)
- Enokidake (Flammulina velutipes)
- Jicama (Pachyrhizua tuberosus)
- Tomatillo (Physalis ixocarpa)
Simple recipes never go out of style, nor does a dash of something different to one’s diet now and again. Next time, let’s take a look at some unusual fruits that may have been forgotten or unbeknownst to the reader, and seek to expand our culinary repertoire. The time is ripe for you to boldly go where you have not!
Simple recipes never go out of style, nor does a dash of something different to one’s diet now and again.