Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fruit Free for All!

            Anyone who follows my blog, even semi-regularly, is accustomed to my interest… nay, obsession, with food.  Were there any justice in the world, I would weigh at least 300 pounds more than I do.
            For the past couple weeks, Ivan and I have been gorging ourselves (I mean, barely coming up for air kind of gorging) on fruit!  I’ve never eaten so much fruit in such a short amount of time and I love every minute of it!  I know I should stop because those 300 pounds are definitely tracking my fructose binge.
            Not only have we been indulging in the sweeter side of Caribbean life, we’ve also been enjoying the plethora of other fresh produce available on the island.  An inventory of my studio apartment in the past week would turn up:
Rock figs
Green bananas
Ripe Bananas
Passion fruit
Seasoning peppers
Scotch Bonnets
Green beans

            I’m probably missing a thing or two, but my point is getting across, I’m sure.  Moving on campus meant a standard-size refrigerator for us (much larger than the leprechaun fridge we had last term) and we have packed it full.  Unfortunately, shelf life isn’t a consideration for me when shopping, so I’m left with the decision every night of what’s going to go bad first and, therefore, should be cooked soonest.
            After having talked about it all last term, I finally bought a breadfruit to try.  The vendor at the fruit stall cut it into wedges and removed the seeds.  When I got it home, I put the wedges in a bowl of salted water and have kept it thus in my fridge.  To prepare it, the skin (hard and scaly) should be removed with a paring knife.  The flesh is firm, like an apple, and can be julienned and fried.  Serve them salted and with ketchup, like French fries.  They are starchy and very similar to potatoes, though perhaps slightly more dense and sweet.

            I don’t recall seeing guava last term.  I wonder if I just wasn’t paying attention or if they weren’t around for the dry season.  Regardless, we have tried them this term.  In fact, we have done more than try them; if the Grenadian farmers have a marketing handbook, under the “Supply and Demand” section, there is only a photo of Ivan and I with our mouths open like hungry fish.  Guava is a lime-size fruit that is entirely edible, making cleanup a cinch.  When ripe, the flesh is pink and soft and very sweet.  The inside is peppered with small hard seeds that are harmless, so it’s easiest to just swallow them.  Since the fruit is quite soft, it’s not necessary to bite down real hard—something we found helpful while trying to avoid breaking our teeth on the seeds.  Eat guava slowly and you’ll fall in love with it as much as we have!

            Who hasn’t had something passion fruit flavored, if not the actual fruit itself?  When I cut open my first passion fruit the other day, there was no mistaking that sweet smell.  I was reminded of passion fruit infused Snapple drinks and candies.  Then I had a look at the guts of the fruit.  Ugh… black beetles stuck in snot.  I mean, there weren’t actually beetles in there.  Or snot, for that matter.  But the seeds do look like bugs and the flesh does look like phlegm.  I had to stop and ask myself, “What bitter, brokenhearted discoverer named this passion fruit?”  Regardless, we found the taste slightly astringent, somewhat surprising, given the sweet smell.  The seeds (also nontoxic) were pleasantly crunchy which offset the slimy fruit.  This is my first impression of passion fruit, though they may not have been ripe enough.  We have one left and we’re going to let it ripen more before trying it.  If my opinion changes, I’ll let you know.

            Genips are being sold all over the island now and the fruit’s broken shells litter the streets in town.  Locally known as “skinups,” genips are a bitter, slimy fruit that grow in bunches and are cheap enough to try, even if you don’t think you’ll like them.  They are about the size of a grape; the skin is green and the flesh is a pinkish color.  The skin (or shell) is tough, but cracks when bitten.  The pit inside is surrounded by a tacky, slimy flesh.  You suck on the fruit and spit out the pit.

            Aside from trying all of this new fruit (plus all of the other fruit I’d already tried before), I also tried making refrigerator pickles for the first time (after hearing about the success a friend had).  So, I sliced up some cucumbers, garlic, seasoning peppers and Scotch bonnets and threw them in a few jars with a mix of spices, topped it all off with a vinegar and mustard brew, and refrigerated the lot for a couple days.  Assuming you’re a fan of dill pickles and eye-watering spiciness, you’d love these pickles!  Since we are fans of both: success!

            Non-food related updates:
            We received our first package from the States on August 20th.  It was Ivan’s white coat and formal attire (pretty idiotic thing to leave at home!).  Mom shipped it to us via USPS express shipping.  It took ten full days to arrive, which was about five business days.  The box was basically trashed, but luckily there was nothing fragile inside.  We paid $17.50 EC in duty (I have no idea how that particular amount was calculated).  The contents were searched (as all incoming packages are) and, unfortunately, one of Ivan’s shoes was subjected to damaging scrutiny.  Since that is his only pair of formal shoes, we had no choice but to superglue it back together.  Ivan’s only worn those shoes a handful of occasions.  Needless to say, we’re a little peeved about the situation.


            We successfully completed our second hash of the term, Hash 742.  It was full of the usual precariously placed paths and mud.  Our ankles were polka dotted with ant bites and scratches from the many thorn bushes we waded through.  But we were rewarded with some breathtaking views of the island.
742--the hash number
(left to right) Natalie, David, Ivan and I, Myra, Mark
Pretty neat swing
            We’ve also been social butterflies, in between Ivan’s studying.  We played dress-up for a dinner party and broke in my new Yahtzee and Apples to Apples games.
Looking suave

            Speaking of Ivan’s studying, he is now into his core classes, having finished Parasitology and CPM.  He took his finals for these two courses earlier this week, starting this term off very successfully!

1 comment: