Specialty Fruit and Produce
Looks Can Be Deceiving
by Kate Heyhoe
Next time you go to the market, keep an eye out for fruits and vegetables you've never seen before—they're out there, in more ways than one.
That distorted looking grapefruit with blotchy yellow and chartreuse skin may not actually be a true grapefruit. The Ugli fruit, renamed as the more palatable "Uniq" fruit by its distributor, Frieda's, looks less than appealing, like a leathery ball that's had a bit too much air let out (our dog Maggie has one just like that). But inside, the fruit is sweet, juicy, and refreshing. Grown in Jamaica, it's a cross between tangerine and grapefruit. The loose peel tears away easily from the grapefruit-like sections, and inside the pale yellow-orange flesh tastes citrusy sweet and mild, without being acidic. Toss the sections in a green or fruit salad, or use it as you would grapefruit.
Once again, Frieda's, the specialty produce company known for its quality and unusual products, is making a splash with new tastes and surprising finds. Besides the Uniq/Ugli fruit, the company has released the "Toma Bella"—a hybrid between a tomato and a bell pepper. Also spelled tomabella. Seriously. It sounds weird, but it bears a faint tomato flavor and a pepper's crisp texture and crunch. The fruits are lipstick red, with a squatty bell pepper shape ideal for stuffing. Take your pick: serve them cold and raw, baked, or roasted and peeled. Amazingly, they retain their crispness (most of it) after cooking. They were developed in Japan and are being grown in Mexico. If you want to try them, snatch them up now, because they're only available from May through September. (Too bad! I'd love to serve individual Thanksgiving salads in them, but alas, they'll be gone by then.)
Though the Toma Bellas won't be around in November, the Carnival Squash, another hybrid will. In fact, it's available all the way from June through February. It's a cross between the Sweet Dumpling squash and the Green Table Queen (or acorn) squash. With its pumpkin shape and green, beige and orange speckled skin, the appropriately named Carnival Squash looks like its Sweet Dumpling parent, but its size comes from the acorn side of the family. I find that one feeds my husband and I just perfectly as a side dish. The sweet and creamy orange flesh can be cooked like other winter squashes, by baking, boiling, steaming or microwaving, so you don't need any special recipes to prepare it. I've got a hunch my holiday table will look quite festive with this happy little squash, filled with a stuffing or maybe broiled with cheese, or maple syrup and nuts. But until then, I'm munching on my Toma Bellas and cooling down with the Uniq/Ugli fruit.
Kate's Global Kitchen for September 2003:
9/05/03 Looks Can Be Deceiving: Specialty Fruit and Produce
9/12/03 Squash Blossom Fever
9/19/03 Eating Well: It's All in Who You Know
9/26/03 Lemons in Hiding
Copyright © 2003, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created September 2003