In addition to the opportunity to dine at some of the best known and little-known restaurants in the world, NYC offers its citizens and visitors the chance to food shop at both fancy specialty stores and humble ethnic markets, both of which have their rightful place in this delicious city.
On a list I made a while back, I noted that I wanted to try a new fruit or vegetable variety at least once a month. While it's completely understandable that people have their favorite things to eat, I find it sad that many don't branch out beyond broccoli and oranges. Although brussels sprouts have made a strong comeback, kale isn't just for hippies anymore, and rhubarb pops up in dishes that aren't baked in a crust...perhaps more people are venturing towards the unknown after all. Hopefully your market has baskets and shelves of unfamiliar items (and I'm NOT talking about these) for you to plunder. The next time you're in the aisles, stealthily striding toward your familiar apples and potatoes, take a moment and look around. See a funny brown tuber in the basket next to the russets? Pick it up, give a gentle squeeze, a sniff, and shrug why not? What's the worst that can happen? You don't like it? Luckily for us, most fruits and vegetables generally don't break the wallet.
Above, a pomelo. I'd just heard about them on Good Food and serendipitously walked past a gorgeous display within the same hour. Bold and hefty (sounds like a new paper towel brand), I slung it in my bag and brought it home where it sat on the counter for a few days, then made it's way to the crisper drawer. Today I brought it out and set about peeling the sucker. As you can see, the skin is quite thick, revealing a substantial pinky-white pith encasing the fruit.
An hour later, the pomelo was finally free of it's shell, but the segments were still deeply hidden. I exaggerate of course, but that is some thick husk! Plus the thing itself is just huge so it does take a few minutes, at least for a novice pomelo peeler. I do so love the thwack of pulling off each piece of peel, very satisfying.
One of my favorite things about eating fruit, particularly the type you have to peel (citrus, bananas, etc.), is that it makes me feel very connected to the earth. I imagine I'm an adventurer poking my way through a thick rainforest when I spot a brightly colored ball upon the damp earth. Picking it up, I scratch-n-sniff the skin and widen my eyes upon the vibrant aroma that tickles my nose. I love ripping the fruit open and marveling at the sweet flesh within. The myriad juicy little sacs in citrus fruits is particularly awe-inspiring.
This pomelo was different. I felt more like an amateur surgeon cutting to find some mysterious organ. Plucking out a portion of the rosy segment, I popped it in my mouth expecting a rush of sweet grapefruit-like nectar. Instead, I tasted nothing and there was no liquid sliding down my throat. The fruit was dry and bland. I sniffed it, making sure my senses were working correctly. They were. I tried another bite. Very slight ruby red flavor, but I thought it was coming more from smelling the rind's oil rather than the fruit itself. Well then. I slipped the remaining pieces into a bag and put it back in the fridge. Now I'm on the lookout for something to do with this strange fruit. Please don't let this discourage you from trying something new. I betcha I'll find some way to make this thing's flavors sing. Or perhaps this one wasn't a winner from the start. Regardless, I've taken a small first step with a pomelo and you know never know where a small first step will lead...