Have you heard of the idea of a bucket list? It's a bunch of things you want to do before you, well, "kick the bucket" - i.e., die. A while back I discovered Mighty Girl's list, which includes "taste 1000 fruits." The idea of there even being a thousand fruits to taste was exciting to me. How many have I already tasted? What could I find in my local store or farmer's market to taste? Would this even be something I could get into? I'm about 50/50 split between adventurer and homebody, meat-n-potatoes girl and experimental foodie. But as soon as I read her review of kumquats, I suddenly knew I could do it. Most of what I try will probably be awesome! Griff, of course, was totally in.
We had a delayed start when the cherimoya I bought on a whim sat in the fridge a little too long. Then, egged on by Reese, I bought two other intriguing fruits, which sat on the counter until today, when I said LET'S DO THIS THING.
So, without further ado, I give you the kickoff edition of our own "taste 1000 fruits", an adventure which needs a name of its own at some point. I give you: horned melon and pepino!
The pepino, AKA melon pear, is apparently neither a melon nor a pear. Little imposter. It feels a little like a smoother, larger version of a kiwi in your hand: firm but dense, a little yielding to pressure. It had been a creamier color when I bought it and turned a more golden shade while it softened. Purplish stripes darkened as it grew riper.
Upon slicing it open, it looked and felt like a very soft and juicy melon, and smelled like a slightly muted cantaloupe. The color inside was the same as the skin. Reese was put off by the sight of its flesh and refused a bite. Xander dug in happily with a spoon and proclaimed it to be delicious. Griff followed suit and eldest and youngest brothers slurped their way through nearly the whole melon pear pepino. I tasted it and found it softer and milder than cantaloupe, but overall very similar in flavor and consistency.
Next up was the horned melon, which has African origins and a kajillion nicknames, like hedged gourd and jelly melon. Who can resist?
Doesn't this look intimidating? The bright color and spines both scream "eat me and DIE!!!" to me. It didn't help matters much when my friend Noah tried it (although he uses its more formal name, the Kiwano, ooh la la Mr. Fancy Foodie) and proclaimed it to be "refreshing" and to have a "grassy/citrus/aloe" flavor before stating that he probably won't try it again. Ringing endorsement. Still, it had to be done. Reese urged me to slice it open.
Check. That. Out. What was that I said about it seeming intimidating? Lime green goo, folks. With seeds. It's a little like cucumber seeds with more gel around them and less flesh. In fact, there's no flesh, the jelly seeds are all you've got.
To my utter amazement, Reese totally went for it. Griff and I each took one of the seeds and I showed the kids how I chewed it until the seed worked loose. I spat out the seed and ate the goo. Griff followed suit. Reese chewed them and spat out both seed and goop, then went back for more. Maybe he has a future in wine tasting.
Our verdict: we agree with Noah that this fruit is refreshing. I'll have to give it another go and see if I detect grassiness, and to be honest, I've never consumed aloe and it's mostly scentless, so I can't speak to taste similarities there, but certainly I could see how this fruit tastes how aloe feels. Cool, gelatinous. I also felt like I recognized a green grape flavor - mild, green, with almost the same texture as the skin and flesh of a grape. The seeds give an almost crisp sensation to each bite until you spit them out (I suppose you could eat them, but I really didn't feel inclined to chew them or swallow whole), leaving the jelly in your mouth. This process is also reminiscent of the feeling of eating a seeded grape. The gel is a bit like a tough Jell-O jiggler - it had a bit of a skin to it but also a fluidity. This texture does make it difficult to understand how it has come to be a snacking fruit in African countries. I can't see myself wanting to eat more than a few seeds, or feeling sated by eating this fruit.
We definitely enjoyed our foray into new fruits today. These are probably not going to be staples in our diet, but we're pumped to pick the next round.