Om Nom Nom… Reviews of Lesser-known Produce

Sophia Bollag, Managing Editor

For decades, toddlers have been refusing to eat their broccoli and peas, their carrots and tomatoes, their apples and celery. It’s time society found some new fruits and veggies for them to reject. Here, legumes-connoisseur Sophia Bollag dishes out all the juicy details on the vegetal edibles you’ve never heard of.

 

Spaghetti Squash

Also known as the squaghetti, the spaghetti squash is, next to the pumpkin, probably the most entertaining gourd in existence. Inside, the squash-flesh is a tangle of yellow strings, resembling a bowl of noodles. Not only does spaghetti squash look like spaghetti, it tastes like it, too, making it a healthy (and amusing) alternative to its carbohydrate namesake.

 

Jujube

If you have ever wondered what a potato would taste like if it were crossed with an apple, but then became disappointed because you realized a fruit cannot be crossed with a vegetable, fret no longer. The jujube tastes just the way a hybrid potato-apple would. Contain your enthusiasm, however. Once you taste it, you might not stay excited about this botanical marvel for very long.

 

Dragon Fruit

Do not believe everything your Vitamin Water tells you. The “dragonfruit-flavored” Glaceau drink tastes almost nothing like its namesake.

On the outside, the dragon fruit looks like a small, hot pink pineapple, and on the inside like a cross between an albino kiwi and a linoleum floor. The fruit tastes just as unappetizing as it looks—a bit like old milk and citrus juice, or something comparably nauseating.

Apparently, the fruit is full of antioxidants and other healthy things, but, as far as I’m concerned, the taste and texture are too off-putting for this fruit to be worth eating.

 

Horned Melon

The horned melon goes by many other names, none of which quite seem to fit. These include the jelly melon (too whimsical), the hedged melon (too prim), the English tomato (where did that come from?), and the African horned cucumber (my personal favorite, but still not exactly right).
In the end, “horned melon” suits it best.
On the surface, the horned melon bears no resemblance whatsoever to its closest relative, the cucumber. The melon has a bright orange rind with surprisingly sharp spines that make washing it especially difficult.
When sliced in half, the melon has a shockingly incongruous interior, comprised of hundreds of large, flat seeds encased in lime green jelly—just about the last thing you would expect to find inside something that looks more like a puffer fish than a fruit.
The green gelatinous seed cases taste like kiwi-flavored Jello and are fun to eat, but challenging to chew. The seeds are edible, but not as tasty as the green jelly. I suggest spitting them out.

 

Bamboo

Bamboo is probably one of the most underrated vegetables, ever. When prepared correctly, bamboo is delicious, with a texture somewhere in between tofu and meat (it is much, much better than it sounds).
Bamboo tastes best when cooked in Chinese and Thai dishes, and for the most part takes on the flavor of the sauces used in these dishes.

Other Animals That Love Bamboo:
• Pandas
• Lemurs
• Mountain Gorillas
• Chimpanzees
• Elephants

 

Pomegranate

There is nothing simple about a pomegranate. Upon first impression, a pomegranate is incredibly juicy, but not in the way most fruits are. Because eating the seeds is almost completely unavoidable, the pomegranate manages to have both juice and integrity (in that it is juicy and crunchy, at the same time). The pomegranate is sweet, but not too sweet. Again, the seeds add complexity, giving the fruit a slightly bitter aftertaste. Overall, the pomegranate is delicious. Probably the only problem is that it is very messy and time-consuming to eat because its seeds are attached to sheets of fibrous membrane. Following is the best way to avoid making a mess when eating this fruit.

Best Way to Prepare a Pomegranate:
• Cut off the very top part of the pomegranite to expose the tops of the sections of the fruit containing the seeds
• You should see five or six sections, depending on the size of the fruit. Cut the fruit along these sections, from the top to the bottom.
• Pull the sections apart from one another, and submerse them in a bowl of water.
• Gently break apart the sections, so that the seeds fall to the bottom, and the membranes float to the top.
• Skim off the membranes, and strain out the seeds.

 

Persimmon

Although persimmons look somewhat like peppers, they are not spicy in the least. Instead, the persimmon is a sweet fruit that, like the pomegranate and the jujube, grows during the winter in the northern hemisphere, making it an ideal ingredient this time of year.