Growing up with a Cuban banana "tree" in the backyard was a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I got to eat the best little bananas in the world. On the other hand, now all other bananas taste like pillows.
This tiny, bulbous banana is one of 75 varieties hanging in the lush groves of the Fruit and Spice Park. Despite its small stature, it had oodles more flavor and texture than any of the monolithic phalluses available at your corner store. Since his visit to a Dole plantation, our tour guide urges everyone in the States to think of the bananas we eat here as nothing short of industrial products. He also told us that workers are fond of secretly putting "too small" stickers on their bosses' backs.
The custard apple, also known as white sapote or cochitzapotl. It was by far the best fruit I ate at the F&SP, if not the best I've ever had in my life. Creamy, sweet, tangy, and, well... custardy.
As you can see, North American's vocabularies in describing tropical fruits are woefully inadequate. We generally describe the qualities of other more familiar fruits, saying mango tastes like a combination of peach and a pear. The fact of the matter is that fruits like the white sapote taste like nothing we've ever had before, and our meager words cannot describe them. You have to go to the Fruit and Spice park and eat one, still very warm from the sun, to understand.
The jackfruit is the largest fruit on earth. Imagine how embarrassing it would be if one shaped like this fell on you and killed you.
Pictured above are two bilimbi, resting in a banana flower petal. Think of these as nature's pickles, with an impressive crunch though too sour to eat more than a nibble of.
I'd heard that you could eat nasturtiums, but assumed that, like most edible flowers, they would be as bland as they were pretty. Wrong! This blossom, popped whole into the mouth, starts sweet and finishes with a peppery bite not unlike horse radish.
That was my trip to the Redlands Fruit and Spice Park. If you are anywhere near Miami at any point in your life, I command you to go there.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Posted by Aaron Kagan at 8:48 AM