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Exotic Fruits (BYOF)

Joanna By Joanna Published on December 18, 2016

I had one of those extra-fun parties yesterday which I was very surprised people showed up: a BYOF party (f is for fruit)

I read a weather report the other day that said that Montréal is the same temperature as Antarctica. As a very seasonally affected person, this is the perfect time of year to turn up the heat in my apartment to 25C and host a party inspired by Québec graphic novelist, Zviane's Le Bestiaire des fruits. This graphic novel documents the author's adventures in the supermarket trying every possible exotic fruit that she can acquire. She rates each fruit according to four categories: taste, appearance, cleanliness, and convenience. Her results are hilarious and sometimes quite informative.

We prepared for this by visiting a bunch of different markets and buying fruits that we didn't recognize. In a couple of cases, we found some things which are technically classified as vegetables; for example, boji (荸薺) is a Chinese water chestnut which is technically a corn instead of a fruit. You can eat it raw, but I find it is more delicious cooked with sesame oil and bitter melon.

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Various custard apples

The major discovery for me this week was the custard apple (cherimoya, atemoya, etc...), which Mark Twain once described as the "most delicious fruit known to man." They look a bit like dragon eggs, and this is 100% fine with me.

In fact, there are many fruits which look quite a bit like dragon eggs. For example, lychees, jackfruits, cactus pears and durians also seem to be part of the dragon family of fruits, perhaps even pineapples. Unfortunately, no one brought any dragon fruits to the party.

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Another somewhat surprising discovery is that there are real-world models for the flavour of Juicy Fruit gum and yellow Starburst. Jackfruit, grenadilla and passionfruit to varying degrees taste like the model for the yellow artificial fruit flavour.

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The durian was one of the most polarizing fruits invited to the party, with bitter melon coming in close second. It is a combination of savory and sweet with the mooshy texture of an avocado. When you cut into one, it smells a bit like man sweat, gym socks and garlic with base notes of rigor mortis. Anthony Burgess described it as like "like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory". It is sort of pleasant, like if a caramel apple and a garlic scape loved each other very, very much... I suggested a durian fettucine alfredo but I was rebuked. I find durian delightfully weird, but I wish my fridge and apartment didn't still smell quite so much like durian.

    Joanna has twice won certificates of honour (and a free beer) for demonstrating “extraordinary courage against the unsurmountable Phaal”, a ludicrously spicy curry.


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