Monday, October 06, 2008

VeganMoFo: Exotic Produce!

I got some crazy fun produce in my kitchen right now! When we went to San Francisco for the VegFest, we made sure to leave home early enough to stop at the Alemany Farmers' market. According to my aunt's boyfriend, this is the oldest farmers market in California. It was my first time going there, and I had a great time. Lots of cool, unusual ingredients that I was unfamiliar with...

For starters, I got this gigantic vegetable - purely as a dare to myself to eat something new and different. I did some research and apparently it has many names: angled luffa, singua, sinqua. Unfortunately, my research also indicates that it is a mushy, not-very-tasty vegetable. Hoorah! Ha ha. I'm still searching around for any recipe ideas... if you have any suggestions, please don't hold back!

I also got these Sweet Limes (the bigger ones) and Philippine Limes (the smaller ones). The Sweet Limes are eaten straight. I haven't cracked into them yet, but apparently they are sweet and yummy. Can't wait to try them. I also bought a sandwich baggie full of these small limes, also called Calamondin or Kalamansi. I have no idea what I will do with them. I guess it's back to Wikipedia for me!

I know fresh chestnuts aren't actually so exotic... but they are neato. I got a great price on these organic chestnuts. For now, I've popped 'em in the freezer... until I have more time and inspiration.

Check these babies out! Rambutan!! Grown in Southern California. The only other time I've had fresh rambutan was when I was in China earlier this year. Rambutan have a semi-crunchy texture similar to a lychee nut, with a seed the size of an almond inside. The skin is strong, but thin, and removes easily. The flavor is mild, sweet, and pleasantly light. Even though it's got a crunch, there's a lot of moisture. I was really happy to have a chance to eat these again!

I also got some fresh Mangosteen from the same vendor. Oh heaven! Oh yum! Soooo beautiful, so yummy. The mangosteen is another fruit that I just tried for the first time in China, earlier this year. First of all, the mangosteen is so beautiful. I love the way they look. They look to me like gorgeous bronzed patinas... I love their thick stems and the wonderful little asterix shape on the bottom.

The peel is thick and fleshy, but actually pretty easily removed. The edible part is the white part.
Here's the fruit. Sorry it's not a better picture, but I was in a hurry to eat it! You can see there are a few smaller segments, and one bigger segment in this piece of fruit. Some of the ones I ate in China were bigger. The big segment had a seed inside, but the others didn't. The texture is smooth, mushy, a little stringy... maybe a bit like a ripe mango. The flavor is totally intoxicating. Very sweet, a bit tangy/tart, and just downright unique. I was eating my two mangosteens, trying so hard to figure out how to describe the flavor, and I'm afraid I've fallen short. Floral, fruity, perfumey, sweet, tart, and lovely. Oh, and expensive - which is why I only bought a few.


  1. Ahhh ... Exceptionally nice post! It reveals the true adventurer in you, as both cook and traveler.

    Thanks again for the wonderful bday party and tribute.

    Your #1 fan,

  2. Anonymous4:55 AM

    Let the luffa dry out, then scrape the peel off and use it as a sponge.

  3. oh wow, I am so jealous. I love trying new things and with the exception of the chestnuts I haven't tried any of those things.

  4. those Rambutan look so neat...wonder if i could find them on the east coast....

  5. Anonymous9:23 AM

    Of all the cool veggies and fruits you posted about, I most want to try those sweet limes! Please post an update about what you thought of them!

  6. Woah! Crazy looking food! The last piece of fruit freaks me out kind of.

  7. Wow, you're really inspiring me to branch out a bit at the store/farmer's market!

  8. I would LOVE to try a mangosteen! How exotic they look. Good luck with your mushy not so tasty vegetable! ;-)

  9. The Mangosteen is beautiful - it looks amazing. I've never heard of those before.
    I want one.

  10. Anonymous5:44 PM

    Here in my family we roast chestnuts and then peel them! They are amazing!! Great produce, very interesting too!

  11. What interesting and unusual produce! Not stuff you find at the farmer's market here in Houston.
    Good luck trying to figure out what to do with thes sinqua!

  12. Nice selection of produce! That first pic you posted looks like something I bought last year and it was called a ridged gourd. It was supposed to be similar to cucumber and something used in Indian cooking. Mine was a little slimy and a lot bitter.

  13. Anonymous7:39 PM

    I put mangosteen powder in my smoothies but I had never actually seen areal one. Thanks for sharing this!

  14. I go to Alemany sometimes, how did I miss all these?!

  15. hooray for exotic produce!

    the first vegetable you have is pronounced "shi gua" in chinese.

    MAKE SURE YOU PEEL OFF THE SKIN WITH A VEGETABLE PEELER! if you cook it with the skin on, it'll be gross. so anyways, it tastes pretty good if you saute it in some garlic and then add really super thin chinese noodles (cooked).

    i love fresh chestnuts! they are awesome boiled and eaten :D


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