I went to my local international market to see what I could find. The original K&S market down on Nolensville Rd isn't tidy, in USA grocery store standards, but it doesn't seem to matter to the shoppers who go there. This market includes many common ingredients used in most Asian, Mediterranean, and South American nations. This market is packed every Saturday with people who look like they represent ever corner of this earth. It is refreshing to me to feel like Nashville does have an international presence, and the culinary landscape of Nashville is expanding to include, not only Southern traditional cooking, but international flavors of the world. The ancient wars over spice trading makes more sense to me now, when my yearning for excellent international flavors, tastes and food grows, and access to these things are still difficult in my town.
My last trip to K&S was to find Spanish olive oil to cook with, and to see what I can see. I stopped in the produce isles and decided I was going to make a fruit salad with fruits I have not used before. Was this going to be a mistake, or a gold mine? Well, this is what I bought.
one white Ya Li
one orange Kiwano
I got home and sliced open these fruit, and this is what I saw. I definitely had to shift plans with the Kiwano Horn Fruit. I was thinking it would be like a little kiwi or cantelope inside, and what I got was a green slimy seed covering with the texture of soup jello before it is chilled, and little seeds that remind me of the white seeds of an immature or seedless watermelon. The scent was green like a grassy cucumber, and the flavor of the green slime was like a very intense cucumber. The Kiwano was definitely announcing its presence as a high liquid content fruit/veggie, but I just did not feel like it was appropriate for my fruit salad.
The Chayote gourd, I was hoping would be like an apple, was not. It was really hard, like cutting into an uncooked sweet potato, the flesh was very dense, and I felt like I was scraping off tartar and plaque while trying to bite into a piece of Chayote. This fruity gourd has virtually no scent, no flavor and a very stiff texture. It makes jicama seem like it is extra juicy, extra aromatic and extra sweet. I cute this beauty up into small bite sized piece for the fruit salad in hopes that there would be more flavor later
The Ya Li pear was a small white pear with a less intense sweetness than the bosc. The texture is smoother than a bosc, and it is somewhere in between an apple and pear. This fruit was a winner for my fruit salad, and I diced it up.
The fruit salad became a can of diced pineapple, the diced Ya Li and the diced Chayote. I left out the Kiwano green slime, although it might have added a nice springtime fresh scent to the salad, but I did not like the texture of the seeds. I could have put the seeds and green slime in a blender, but I am lazy, and that would be another item to clean up later. The pineapple and Ya Li were very good. The Chayote, in its denseness, did not absorb any of the pineapple juice, and remained hard and bland as ever. I am surprised that the acid in the pineapple juice did nothing to breakdown the Chayote at all.
The fruit salad was not a big success. Oh well. The Chayote, I think would be better cooked. There is a winter melon soup popular in Chinese restaurants in New York, where there is a light broth and diced up comfort food winter melon in it. On a small scale, the Chayote maybe a good substitute for the winter melon, but I do not believe that Chayote would lend much flavor to the soup. I am betting that the Chayote is better cooked than raw because I think cooking would open up the flesh to absorbing the surrounding flavors like a potato would. That is it, I am on to my next food adventure.
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