series

website wednesday: Eat, Live, Run

website wednesday

So, I have this idea for a new series of posts. I’m calling it “Website Wednesday.”

If this little series goes according to plan, every Wednesday I will feature one of my favorite food blogs. In my post I’ll list and describe the best recipes I’ve tried from the particular site, give any background information I can offer, and generally sing its praises.

I regularly follow an ever-expanding host of positively brilliant food bloggers. These people consistently concoct culinary creations of incredible beauty and exceptional flavor, and they take astonishingly appealing photographs of what they cook, too. Combining their food content with personal antidotes – from deeply profound to lightheartedly clever – they never cease to amaze me with their ingenuity. The bloggers I will feature are the ones like which I aspire to cook and write. I hope you’ll love them as much as I do.

So, without further fangirl verbosity, I present to you my first feature on Website Wednesday:

Eat, Live, Run

I wish I could remember when and how I discovered Eat, Live, Run. I believe it was sometime while I was in Peru, foolishly flipping through pages of food blogs overflowing with delectable dishes I had no way of cooking. Or maybe I found it through Tasty Kitchen, one of my favorite source for recipes of all kinds. Who knows. Regardless, I am very glad I did.

Eat, Live, Run is written by Jenna, a happy-looking, blonde Le Cordon Bleu graduate living in California. Her posts are full of bubbling enthusiasm for yoga, for whatever she’s cooked lately, for life, and for food photography. If you need proof of her passion for any of those pursuits, I would recommend her book, White Jacket RequiredI asked for and received it for Christmas. It’s an easy read that describes Jenna’s decision to attend culinary school, details some of her adventures therein, and explains how her decisions and a personal tragedy brought her to where she is today. I breezed through it in a few hours, and finished with a better picture of the person behind some of the food I like best.

Speaking of the food I love, the food on Eat, Live, Run is a good balance: healthy entrées and sides full of vegetables as well as decadent cakes and cookies baked with the perfect amount of butter and flour. And whatever the dish, the flavor is always perfect – I think that’s Jenna’s greatest cooking talent: her feel for flavor.

Here are the recipes from Eat, Live, Run that have made it into my “favorites” food folder:

  • Graham Cracker Torte: I’m pretty sure that this is the first ELR recipe I ever made. It blew my mind. It’s a cake made with crushed graham crackers, layered with rich whipped cream, and drizzled with caramel sauce with a hint of orange. Whoa, is it good. I’ve made it two or three times, and each time my brothers or myself have carefully cleaned the cake plate with our fingers to make sure not one drop of that incredible caramel sauces goes to waste. Also, I leave short notes to myself about recipes I’ve tried; the note for this one tells it all: AMAAAZING!
  • Thai Red Curry with Kabocha Squash: This creamy curry is bursting with limey flavor. I simplify the recipe a bit when I make it – butternut instead of kabocha squash; eggplant instead of tofu; lime zest instead of kaffir lime leaves and thai basil – but I keep coming back. It’s just so good.
  • Dairy-Free Stuffed Shells: This is one of Jenna’s recipes that was posted on PBS’s food blog, for which she writes (such a cool job!). I love the creaminess of the shell filling and so does my family. You’d never guess that the shells are stuffed with tofu rather than cheese. Simply brilliant. The only thing I’d change is the amount of salt – it’s a bit too salty.
  • Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Sweet Potato Pancakes: Another repeat winner here. I made these in California during my jobternship and then again several times since I returned. Sweet potato and chocolate is a combination to die for, especially in a pancake. Of course, I use all whole wheat flour instead of half white as the recipe calls for.
  • Tofu Banh Mi: This marinated tofu sandwich is a tasty combination of Asian-inspired sauces and slaws piled on crusty bread. It was just plain good. Even my dad liked it, and he first tried it back in the days when he was exceedingly skeptical about tofu. He’s come to accept it since then, thankfully.
  • Greek Yogurt Cheesecake with Peaches and Honey: This is recipe holds the special place as the only cheesecake that I can honestly say that I like. I dislike the combination of sweet and cream cheese, so naturally I dislike all cheesecake. Since this one is made with greek yogurt, though, I can finally enjoy both wonderful versatility of cheesecake and the flavor! Plus, it’s not so dense, so you can eat a bigger slice. Hurray! When I made this over Christmas break I topped it with a cranberry-raspberry compote instead of peaches and honey. Everyone at our New Year’s Eve party loved it.
  • Crock Pot Pork and Apples: I made this also while over Christmas break and was immensely pleased with it. I had told Mom I would make dinner but was leaving for an afternoon of running errands, so I threw the ingredients in the crock pot in less than 15 minutes, turned it on high, and returned home several hours later with my main dish already cooked and waiting. The apples and onions had softened to sweet perfection and the meat – I used some of our goat steaks – was incredibly tender. And everything had the slightest tang of mustard. Yum!
  • Elvis Granola: This granola. Oh man. It is pure peanut butter deliciousness. With chocolate. Oh yesss. I can’t stop making it. Last semester, when I had no access to peanut butter for a couple of months, it was my peanut butter stand-in. And when a sudden chocolate craving hit me the other day, this granola saved me again: I picked the dark chocolate chips out of it to satisfy my chocolate need. This semester it has a permanent place in the rotation of granolas I bring from home and eat for breakfast. The only thing I change when I make is to use applesauce instead of canola oil and to add a bit more peanut butter. You guys, you have to try this. You must.
Elvis Granola from Eat, Live, Run.

Elvis Granola from Eat, Live, Run.

There you have it, people: my first Website Wednesday feature. I really do hope you’ll go check out Eat, Live, Run, if by some miracle you haven’t heard of it already. I love that site dearly.

Also, I apologize – sort of, not really – for the astonishing amount of alliterations that abound in this post, especially near the beginning. I don’t know what overcame me, but it sure was fun.

our spartan kitchen: rosemary fig whole grain muffins

Three items:

1. WE GOT KITTENS! Rescue kittens, that is. They are both so lively that it is nearly impossible to get a well-focused picture of them facing the camera.

Easter, who we estimate is four weeks old, was dropped off in the back of someone’s truck on Easter Sunday.

Sherbet (shur-burt), who is six weeks old, was “owner surrendered,” as the people at the Humane Society say.

2. I burnt my thumb. I have no picture to prove it, but I do indeed have a nice, blistered second degree burn on the pad of my poor left thumb. The top of that pan really did not look that hot!

3. I finally made these muffins, the idea for which had been bouncing around in my brain for weeks. I just needed to acquire some figs. Thanks to my friend Anna and Whole Foods [cue heavenly music] in Raleigh, the other day I did just that.

Whole Foods actually offered two types of dried figs. In their apparent goal to bound above and beyond the limits and expectations placed on a single grocery store, Whole Foods actually offers two types of figs. And, in my enthusiasm at being inside a Whole Foods and discovering figs, I purchased both. For my muffins I somewhat arbitrarily decided to utilize the mission figs instead of the Turkish ones. The mission figs seemed a bit more moist, which I figured would render them easier to chop.

I made a sad and pathetic attempt to photograph the ingredients I used before I actually made the muffins. Of course, I left multiple ingredients out of the picture and added in cloves, which never enters the recipe scene. Oh well.

For me the most exciting part of the whole recipe was tasting and using brown rice syrup for the first time. Whole Foods provided me with that opportunity also. I cannot wait until one opens up here in town this summer! Oh my goodness. I will be able to spend hours wandering the aisles, drooling over the produce, and staring, enraptured by the array of bulk food dispensers. What a wonderful thought! My anticipation is great.

Brown rice syrup is so delightfully thick and sticky-sweet; it is like molasses but properly, purely sweet instead of nastily bitter.

Let it be known throughout the earth: I like batter. After scraping this bowl to a sufficient degree in my mind, I and one of my dear brothers – alas, I must sometimes compete for extra batter – used a spatula, a fork, and our fingers to clean it well. I presume that the “waste not, want not” saying applies to batter as well as to food one does not prefer.

 I must admit that just about the only clean item after I finish baking something is, in fact, the bowl that used to hold the batter. I make a mess, despite my constant cleaning up and putting away in the middle of things.

It was a miracle we had cupcake liners!

These are perfect breakfast or snack. I guess you could even eat one for dessert if you are strange and dislike properly sweet desserts. I cannot fathom people like that. It blows my mind. If it has lots of sugar, I will probably eat it.

Rosemary Fig Whole Grain Muffins

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup barley flour (or whole wheat flour)
  • ½ cup oat flour (or whole wheat flour)
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup milk (dairy or otherwise)
  • 2  eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons brown rice syrup, agave nectar, honey, or a combination
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 cup dried mission figs
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds (optional)

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl combine the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients in with the dry.

Briefly soak the figs in water to soften them. Cut off their hard stems. Coarsely chop the figs a size you like. Add the figs and rosemary to the bowl with the other ingredients. Mix until combined, but do not overmix.

If using them, place cupcake liners in a muffin pan, and spray with baking spray. If not using cupcake liners, simply grease the muffin pan well. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Bake the muffins for 15 to 20 minutes, until they test done. Enjoy warm!

our spartan kitchen: cilantro pesto spread

It’s spring. We have lots of herbs. I wanted pesto. We had no pine nuts. I did not feel like using cheese. This happened.

Half a cup of cilantro (packed), white beans (drained), almonds (sliced),  and walnuts (unmolested).

Four tablespoons of normal olive oil, two average cloves of garlic, and a fourth of a teaspoon of everyday salt.

Blended. Pureed. Pulverized.

Vitamixed.

Removed from the magical machine with the upmost care and efficiency. Spatula, thou art pathetic.

Swirled delicately in a bowl.

Spread on bread. Consumed.

Or, perhaps, photographed with its fraternal twin: Oregano Pesto Spread.

Yum.

Cilantro (or Oregano) Pesto Spread

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup white beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro (or oregano) leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)

Place all the ingredients in a food processor, and blend until smooth. Enjoy on bread, with chips, on sandwiches, in pasta.

our spartan kitchen: spinach gnocchi with sundried tomato white sauce

I think I should have some claim to making gnocchi; after all, an entire fourth of my blood runs pure Sicilian olive oil. Then again, it is only a fourth.

I decided to put spinach in my gnocchi (which is Italian potato pasta, by the way) simply for aesthetic appeal. I could not taste it in the least, and it did not solve the blah aspect of the gnocchi’s taste. But is gnocchi supposed to have a delicious taste? I think not, but I cannot really remember. Oh well, at least it is pretty.

The sauce ended up pleasing me more. I love tomatoes, and sundried tomatoes condense all the wonderfulness of a tomato’s flavor into a smaller, intensified package. What a deal! Tomatoes are to sundried tomatoes as maple tree sap is to maple syrup, in my mind. The best part about the sundried tomatoes in our freezer is that they are from our garden, so I know what fungicides have been used on them! Ha! If we lived elsewhere, perhaps I could say they were organically grown in the pure soil of our backyard. Alas, tomato fungi and southern accents flourish equally in our humid, pine pollen-filled air, so we are forced to use fungicides and watch a weekly dose of Downton Abbey to stave off the ill effects. My consolation is that I know which chemicals have been used.

After the following excuse, I promise to actually present the recipe to which I keep referring.

I told myself – something I often do with the best, if most futile, of motives – when I started this blog, that it would not become an outlet for nonsense and trivialities of my life, including cooking. But! I have, of course, formulated a convenient excuse for allowing myself to bend my predetermined blogging principles: cooking is part of my gap year! Yeaaah, that’s it! Well, it is. People keep telling me I should be a food journalist “when I grown up.” I rather like that idea. Therefore, since the purpose of this gap year is to aid me in deciding or starting along the road to becoming what I want to be “when I grow up,” cooking – and learning how to cook more effectively, tastily, and healthily – falls into the scope of this blog. Now I have logically justified my actions. That feels better.

Okay. The recipe.

Spinach Gnocchi with Sundried Tomato White Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1-½ cup sundried tomatoes
  • 2 whole large russet potatoes
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup whole white wheat flour, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 2-½ cups milk
  • ½ cups grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1-½ teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper

Most of the ingredients.

Place the sundried tomatoes in a small bowl and with enough water to cover them. Leave them to soak.

Sometime during microwaving the potatoes, put the frozen spinach in a bowl with some water and microwave it along with the potatoes for a few minutes until it has thawed. Squeeze as much water as you can out of the spinach.

To defend the reputation of our chickens' eggs, I must inform you that the yolk was much, much more orange in reality.

Peel the cooked potatoes and place them in a large bowl along with the egg, spinach, and a few dashes of salt. Use a hand mixer on the lowest setting to the ingredients together until there are no chunks of potatoes left. If tiny potato bits remain, mash the mixture with a fork until they disappear.

On a floured surface, knead the 1 cup of flour into the potato mixture.

Divide the dough into 8 parts and roll each into a rope 8 or so inches long and 3/4 inch in diameter.

The Gnocchi Sea.

Cut the ropes into 1/2-inch segments.

Remove the sundried tomatoes from their soaking water. Using kitchen shears, cut them into small pieces.

In a medium saucepan whisk together the milk and remaining 3 tablespoons flour. Bring the mixture to a low boil, stirring constantly. Then add the parmesan. Reduce to a simmer and stir frequently as the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.

Please observe: the sauce has thickened and decreased in volume.

After the sauce has reduce by a bit less than half or has thickened to your liking, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, spices, and sundried tomatoes. Remove the sauce from the heat.

Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a pot. Add the gnocchi in batches. Remove them with a slotted spoon when they float to the top of the water; that is when they are done.

our spartan kitchen: inside-out pear crumble

Okay, I just can’t take it anymore. I have been denying myself the pleasure of truly blogging, making myself wait until I finish those “Cusco: A Study in Food” posts, since I may never get them done otherwise. But, I quit! Putting off something I like in an attempt to force myself to do something I do not has never worked. I once brought my math homework along on a 28-hour car trip (to Grandma M.’s house and back) and left whatever enjoyable book I was then reading at home so that I would do my math. I stared out the window all 28 hours and finished not a single problem. See? I am hopeless. So, someday you may see the rest of my tragically abandoned food series from Peru, but I can nearly guarantee that if you do, it will be brief and unsatisfactory. Sorry.

I imagine that if you were expecting anything from my next few blog posts, it was food, since I did lead you to believe I would be finishing that food series shortly. Well, even though I am not posting on the series, I do have food for you.

I confessed once that I like to cook. Three months in Peru did not dampen that affection. Lately, I have been attempting to invent recipes more frequently than I cook other people’s. Generally, they turn out rather mediocre. Good, but not great. I care not a whit, though; I thoroughly enjoy experimenting! Pity my family.

Today I am going to play Pioneer Woman, or any other food blogger for that matter, and post a recipe with step-by-step instructions and pictures to illustrate. Wheee!

 

Inside-Out Pear Crumble

Ingredients:

  • 3  ripe pears
  • ¼ cups rolled oats
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • a dash ground cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.


Wash the pears and remove any bad spots if necessary.

Oh look! Orange zest! Why does it look so pale and pathetic? No one knows.

Please ignore the fact that I had not yet added the zest or oats, nor had I cut the butter into chunks.

Combine all of the crumble ingredients except for the butter in a small bowl. Cut the butter into small chunks. Cut the butter into the flour and sugar mixture until it is crumbly and free of large chunks of butter.


Cut the tops off of the pears where the neck of the pear begins to widen out into the body. Using a melon baller or very small spoon, scoop out the middle of the larger part of the pear to remove the seeds and surrounding toughness, leaving the good flesh. Be careful not to puncture the bottom of the pear. Scoop out a little bit of the inside of the top of the pear, also.


Stuff the pears with the crumble filling and replace their tops.


Place the pears in a greased bread pan or casserole dish, leaning them against the sides so they do not fall over.


Bake the pears for 30 minutes in the 350º oven. Around minute 15 you can take the pears out of the oven and turn them so that the sides that were facing the inside of the pan face the walls, so that they will brown evenly.


Eat them while they’re still warm! I’m sure they wouldn’t be bad with whipped cream. We just don’t keep that lying around in our house, unfortunately for our taste buds.

 

That’s the recipe, people. And some of my blatantly obvious attempts at styling. Ha! It really is quite fun, though.

Oh! I forgot to mention the reason for the first half of this post’s title, “Our Spartan Kitchen.” The other day Hannah and I were discussing the difference between our families and our houses and, more specifically, our kitchens. My mother values function over form, without a doubt. First it must work and work well, then it must match and match everything (think grey, black, or white). And she dislikes having appliances or tools with overlapping functions. Why have two appliances that do the same thing when you can reduce clutter by having one that does both? Therefore, our kitchen is rather spartan. You will not find seasonal, decorative dishes or flower-patterned mixers or (until a few months ago when I finally convinced her we really needed one) zesters. Now, mind you, I am certainly not complaining about our kitchen. Nope. Not in the least. I like it. Mother and I think very similarly, as is becoming more and more apparent to me with every passing day. But, back to the kitchen: compared to other – perhaps more normal? – kitchens that might actually contain heavily patterned dishes, colorful cloth napkins, ramekins, or delicate glasses, ours is spartan. Hence the name, “Our Spartan Kitchen.” Like I said, I like it that way. Though, I did admittedly just purchase some ramekins… and asked for a silicone-coated whisk for Christmas. ahem.

Cusco: a study in food – savory pastries

Okay, guys, here is another, albeit much more brief, part of the food series I started from Peru. I have two more posts in the works before the series ends – and before I will let myself post on any other topic, I might add – that I will hopefully be posting within the next week.


Name: pastel de acelga
Composition: Flakey puff pastry surrounding swiss chard boiled egg. It is like quiche but with boiled eggs.
Opinion: Very tasty! I like quiche. And I like this.

 

 


Name: salteña
Composition: Soft, bready pastry filled with ground, peas, carrots, onions, and potatoes in a slightly spicy sauce. It’s like a shepherd’s pie with a kick.
Opinion: This is my second favorite savory pastry. I love it!

 

 


Name: empanada de carne
Composition: Soft and bready or flakey puff pastry (depends on the pastry shop) filled with beef, onions, and spices, if not a few vegetable bits.
Opinion: My absolute favorite savory pastry. For a long time it was a toss-up between this an the salteña, but I finally realized that my true allegiance lies with the amazing empanada de carne.

 

 


Name: empanada de pollo
Composition: Bready or flakey pastry dough filled with chicken bits, onions, carrot bits, and spices.
Opinion: Very tasty.

 

 


Name: empanada de ají de gallina
Composition: Puffy but flakey pastry filled with shredded chicken in a creamy, slightly spicy yellow sauce.
Opinion: Amazing!

 

 


Name: empanada de queso
Composition: A soft, dough pastry with melted-then-resolidified cheese sticking to the bottom inside the pastry.
Opinion: Boring. Blah. Not worth eating.

 

 


Name: empanada mixta (de queso y jamón)
Composition: Bits of ham and once-melted cheese in a flakey puff pastry.
Opinion: Dry and uninteresting.

 

 


Name: enrollado de hot dog
Composition: Puffy but soft and doughy pastry surrounding an unnaturally pink hot dog. It is like a giant pig in a blanket.
Opinion: Hot dogs, even covered in pastry bread, are disgusting.

 

 


Name: bruschetta integral
Composition: Half a whole wheat French bread loaf with pizza sauce, peppers, olives, onions, and melted cheese. It tastes like pizza with peppers and olives.
Opinion: I do not like peppers and olives on my pizza, and therefore did not like this. Some of my friends, however, were positively obsessed with it.

 

 


Name: enrollado de queso
Composition: Melted-then-solidified cheese with a bit of herbs on bread. Like an outisde-in empanada de queso.
Opinion: Unappetizing to look at and not much better to eat.

Cusco: a study in food – exotic fruits

Well, when I went through my “Cusco, Peru” picture folder to select the photos for this post, I discovered I have tried 11 strange fruits. That is a lot more than I had expected. This is going to be one lengthy post.

The maracuya is on the left.


Name: maracuya
Appearance: The outside is of the slightly less than baseball-sized, bright yellow sphere is either tough and smooth but pliable (a very, very overripe apple comes closest to the feel) or wrinkled, hard, and fracturable, depending on how long it has sat around. Inside are little black seeds, each encased in a juicy, delicate, light orangy-yellow membrane.
Taste: For those of you who have been fortunate enough to try a passion fruit at some point: the flavor of a maracuya is like a passion fruit minus most – but not all – of the sweetness and plus a bit more tartness. For my brothers and parents: it is the same as a matunda, I am nearly certain. For the rest of you people: just about all I can manage to tell you is that it is sour; sorry.
Texture: Although you could swallow the maracuya innards (that word sounds gross, but the stuff inside does not qualify as flesh) without chewing, that would be no fun. The little black seeds have a lovely crunch that contrasts nicely with the somewhat slimy, slippery texture of the orangey, membranous part.
Consumption: Unless you are in possession of exceptionally strong and sharp fingernails, you have to use a knife to cut into the skin of the maracuya. After that, you can just rip open a hole at the top, spoon in some sugar if desired, and eat it with a spoon.
Notes: I drank a cup of maracuya juice and ginger tea at a restaurant here one time. As strange as that may sound to those of you who can somewhat imagine how it tastes, I really enjoyed it.
I had eaten this fruit previously in Uganda.
Opinion: I love it!

The tumbo is on the right.

Name: tumbo
Appearance: Like the maracuya, the tumbo is also bright yellow, but its yellow is warmer and sunnier than that of the maracuya. It is three or so inches long, about an inch wide, and oblong. Its skin is much softer than a maracuya and can be opened easily with fingernails of any size and strength. Inside, tumbos have the same black seeds as maracuyas, but they are surrounded by larger packets of brilliant orange juice; there is no extra slime floating around inside a tumbo like there is inside a maracuya.
Taste: Yet again, I have to refer to the taste of a passion fruit. The taste is like a passion fruit minus every last bit of sweetness and plus a fair amount of bitterness. ‘Tis quite unpleasant.
Texture: The texture is the same as a maracuya, only juicier and less slimy.
Consumption: Just open it up and eat the insides.
Notes: I only purchased a tumbo twice: once when I first tried it and again from a street vendor when I was feeling peckish one day. That second time it was so bitter that I took only one bite before tossing it away; it was that unbearable.
Opinion: I do not like it. Not a bit.



Name: granadilla
Appearance: On the outside a hard, orange shell protects the granadilla. It can be easily cracked and removed piece by piece, like a boiled egg’s shell, from the soft, white, edible pith-like thing that contains the seeds and pulp. Inside the white part, the juice and membranous stuff is a clear to very light grey color tinged with yellow.
Taste: The seeds and slime part taste like a very mild passion fruit with a lot of sugar. The white, pithy stuff has no real flavor, just like orange pith.
Texture: The texture of the seeds and juice is the same as that of a maracuya, but more juicy and liquid. The white part is soft, both to touch and bite, and chewy.
Consumption: Crack the orange shell and remove it, leaving the very bottom and top parts. Removing either the top or bottom part of the shell will tear a hole in the white pith. You can either eat the juice and seeds with a spoon, consume them with bites of the pith, or suck them out of the pithy part, leaving it behind.
Notes: I am reasonably certain that I heard once that the name of this fruit stems from the fact that they somewhat resemble grenades.
I had eaten this fruit previously in Guatemala.
Opinion: I love it!

Name: chirimoya
Appearance: The earthy green and brown fruits can be anywhere from fist sized to two or three times that. They are shaped like misshapen apples. Inside they are made up of little segments of white flesh, each containing a seed within.
Taste: The taste is very sweet but with a little bit of a tart aftertaste. Perhaps you could say they combine the flavor of a banana and a mild Granny Smith apple. Thinking of it makes me salivate. They are quite tasty.
Texture: The texture can vary from soft, a bit mealy, and mushy to fibrous and chewy, but regardless, it is always somewhat slippery.
Consumption: After pulling apart the soft skin, you eat the white insides, spitting out the black seed contained in each little parcel of flesh.
Notes: This fruit was very tasty in the form of ice cream.
Opinion: I really like it.


Name: masasamba
Appearance: They are a dark green, a warped oval sort of shape, and covered in slightly pointy bumps. Like the chirimoya, they vary greatly in size. Their insides are exactly the same as the chirimoya, only most of the segments of flesh are seedless.
Taste: Yet again, this fruit is really almost exactly the same as the chirimoya, though perhaps with a stronger tart aftertaste.
Texture: The texture is exactly the same as the chirimoya.
Consumption: You eat it the same way as the chirimoya, though you do not have to constantly spit out the black seeds because there are so few of them.
Notes: I spied a masasamba growing on a tree during the hiking part of my Machu Picchu trip and wondered what it was. So, as soon as I found one in the market, I snatched it up. As I made my purchase, the vendor lady informed me that masasambas are good to prevent or help cure cancer, or something to that effect. Later, when I asked my teacher to repeat the name so that I would know it for this post, she gave me the same information about its medicinal use. She also mentioned that they are available rather infrequently and only in my Mercado de Wanchaq.
Opinion: I really like it.


Name: lúcuma
Appearance: It looks like a pointy, strangely light greenish yellowish, smooth avocado.
Taste: It was bad. Really, REALLY bad. I can not think of a way to describe it, but it was very pungent and made me feel a bit nauseous every time I caught the occasional whiff it wafting out of the trash can, where I had attempted to quarantine the odor by encasing the fruit in two plastic bags.
Texture: Though I cannot justly claim that I closely inspected or experienced the texture of the lúcuma, – I only took two nibbles, both of which I regretted immensely – the feel of the tiny bits of flesh I did manage to choke down was something between a very starchy sweet potato and an avocado.
Consumption: For the sake of avoiding the unpleasant sensation of nausea, one should not ingest or even nibble at lúcumas except under extreme duress, perhaps during a hostage situation. I am serious. Of course, in order to be prepared for every possible contingency of life, if one was indeed forced to consume a lúcuma, one open and eat it like an avocado.
Notes: Although lúcumas are apparently eaten by themselves (how that is humanly possible is beyond my comprehension), they are more frequently incorporated into sweet desserts like ice cream. I did in fact sample some lúcuma ice cream, which tasted nothing like the fruit but was strangely starchy tasting, as impossible as that may sound for ice cream.
Opinion: I loathe it with every fibre of my being, especially with my tongue, nose, and stomach.


Name: membrillo
Appearance: It looks like a bright yellow apple covered in light brown lint, plus a protrusion where the stem should be and the remnants of a flower where there never is one on the bottom of an apple.
Taste: Take the cottony, starchy, horrible taste of unripe bananas and persimmons and increase it exponentially. Add some sourness. That is it.
Texture: The texture of a membrillo is like a dense, mealy apple.
Consumption: If you really must, eat it like an apple, after washing off the lint-like fuzz, of course.
Notes: It turns out that this fruit is not meant to just be eaten plain and raw unless it has sat around long enough for its skin to turn black. It is normally used to make jelly, using mass quantities of sugar, of course.
Opinion: I do not like it. Not one bit.


Name: pepino
Appearance: It looks like a peachy-colored, dull tomato with random purple stripes.
Taste: It tastes like a mix of a peach, a cantaloupe, and a honeydew melon with a bit of cucumber thrown in.
Texture: It is like a under ripe and hard yet juicy melon with skin the same texture and thickness as that of a tomato.
Consumption: Eat it like a peach, leaving the porous and strangely soft pit behind.
Notes: Normally, the word “pepino” means “cucumber,” but that is not true here in Peru.
Opinion: It is okay.


Name: tuna
Appearance: The color of a tuna can be anywhere from yellow to green to light red. Other than that, it looks like the cactus fruit that it is.
Taste: It is sweet in a very natural way, not like sugar. It is a sweet that makes me think of the color green. I have no idea why.
Texture: The texture is somewhat like the firm part of an overripe tomato without the skin.
Consumption: Slice off the bottom and top of the fruit and make a vertical cut down the fruit. The surprisingly thick skin can then easily be pealed off. Eat the insides, though not in overly large bites, lest you end up with an unmanageable quantity of the tiny, inedible seeds in your mouth.
Notes: This fruit was a pain to eat. I ended up spitting out a lot of flesh with the dozens and dozens of tiny, inedible seeds. It was neither comfortable to try to swallow the juice and flesh without consuming a mouthful of seeds, nor was it economical to waste so much juice and pulp with the discarded seeds.
Opinion: I like it.


Name: pacay
Appearance: It looks like a giant seedpod. Coincidentally, it is a giant seedpod.
Taste: After much pondering, I decided that the best way to describe the taste of these seeds is to say that they taste like sugar cane, only much, much less sweet. But, the point is that the sweetness is that purely natural, sort of green sweetness. Really, though, that is a very inadequate description, because they were not half as pleasant to eat as sugar cane. I could chew on sugar can for hours and hours, while I did not even finish half of the pod full of seeds.
Texture: When you first put one of the seeds in your mouth, it feels like a solid mass of compacted fuzz or tiny fibers. Within a few seconds it turns slimy and slippery, and then once you have removed the white part from the inner seed, it is chewy.
Consumption: After opening the thick, tough pod – a task that took me a few minutes of struggling with the aide of my rather dull Leatherman knife – you remove one of the seeds and pop it in your mouth. With several seconds of sucking on it and worrying it with your teeth, the edible white part slips off the inner, black, inedible seed, which you spit out.
Notes: One of my teachers had described the pacay to me a couple of weeks before I purchased one, but she had simultaneously informed me that they are not in season until June or July. Therefore, I was very pleasantly surprised to spot a wheelbarrowful of them, which I immediately recognized from my teacher’s excellent description, while being driven through Cusco on the tour last Tuesday. I felt quite pleased with myself when I acquired one the next day.
Opinion: It is okay.


Name: manzana de Israel
Appearance: This is a relatively small apple. It looks like someone took a gala apple and squeezed it in the middle, making it oblong.
Taste: I love the flavor of this apple! It was nearly as good as a fuji apple.
Texture: Yet again, the manzana de Israel resembled the fuji apple: it had a very nice, crisp texture and made the proper crunching sound an apple should make when bit into.
Consumption: I ate it like any normal person would eat a normal apple, though I did wash it in tap water, wipe it with a handsanitizer wipe, and rinse it in clean water beforehand.
Notes: I included this fruit – a humble apple, of all things – in the exoctic fruits category for two reasons: (1) I thought it was strange enough to qualify as exotic, and (2) I never got around to trying all the different types of apples here but wanted to include the one I did eat.
I wish we had these apples at home.
Opinion: I like it.

I did not include some fruits in this post because (1) I have eaten so many of them, and/or (2) I see them frequently enough in US grocery stores to guess that you know what they are and how they taste. Those fruits are as follows: mango, fig, star fruit, and kiwi. If you happen to have never tried one of those, I insist you immediately locate the nearest grocery store likely to carry semi-exotic fruits, purchase, and consume said fruit. Do it. Now.