Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Juicy Fruit

Reading an excerpt from "An Embarrassment of Mangoes" got me thinking about, well, mangoes (or my preferred spelling of 'mangos'). Not an unusual topic, since I live in a place where they're abundant. But I gotta tell you, I don't have big love for the mango. I love mango used to flavor just about anything. But the fruit itself? Doesn't do much for me. When I tell locals that, they tell me that the mangos I've eaten must not have been fully ripe. Because I know people here that would knock down your grandmother to pick up a stray mango lying on the ground. Seriously. I was once in a large open-air taxi shuttle van (I was the only passenger at the time) when the driver stopped in the middle of a dangerously narrow section of a road to pick up a mango that was lying in the middle of it. (A good friend of ours had been in a horrible car accident in almost that exact spot a few years ago, so I wasn't exactly relaxed as I waited in the taxi since we were parked on a blind curve.)

Genips are another local favorite. (Try finding it in your dictionary.) If the mango is the queen of tropical fruits, the genip is the fourth cousin...twice removed. Now there's a fruit I don't get at all. They're small, round and green. They look like the kind of fruit you might see on a tree and think, "Oh, look, that tree appears to bear fruit"...but would make no attempt to actually eat it. When they're in season, people set up along the side of the road to sell clumps of them. The going rate is $1 for a clump. (Okay, a bunch...like a bunch of grapes.) I've had a couple of different taxi drivers stop to buy genips while they were driving me...and then try to convince me to try one. Um, no thanks. I kind of like to wash my fruit before I eat it. Aside from the fact that that little green orb with the hard rind looks really unappealing to me. I did try one once. Didn't do anything for me, but when they're in season locals go crazy over 'em.

Now figs, those I can go for. Not the figs you're thinking of--these are small bananas. The first house we lived in here had a fig tree and those were the best bananas I've ever eaten--smooth and creamy and sweet. Yum! I haven't had a good fig in awhile, but we always have bananas in the house because those are boyfriend's favorite. If we have 10 bananas, I'm lucky to get one. That boy is a banana-eating machine! As is our secretary at work. When she was on Atkins, the food she missed the most was her bananas.

I thinking living in California for 40 years spoiled me into thinking that produce everywhere would be world-class. But it's not great here--in fact, it pretty much sucks. We were just in the market last night. Produce is the the first section you hit and I always get my hopes up that this time I'll see some great looking fruit, but it never happens that way. It's not that I can't find some of my favorite fruits, it's that the quality isn't there. (Could it be the humidity? Could it be that by the time the fruit hits the stores it hasn't held up well because it's not being stored 'properly'?)

So I dream of one day (soon!) living in a place where I can eat wonderful...

blackberries (and boysenberries and when in Oregon, marionberries!)
grapes (all varieties)

I'll eat other melons and apples, but I do it more just to do it, not because I crave them. And I feel rather sheepish in admitting this, but I'm not big on papayas either. (Shouldn't an 'island gal' be diggin' papayas?)

So as we wait for the very green bananas (there was no other kind) we bought last night to ripen on the counter, I'll have to settle for a lemon poppyseed muffin just out of the oven and a good cup of tea this morning.

But someday soon, I'm gonna make up for lost fruit.


Anonymous MSB said...

It will be real soon now!

11:24 PM  
Anonymous MSB said...

It will be real soon now!

11:24 PM  

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