Monday, April 21, 2008

Enter the Dragon Fruit

So while we're on the topic of vegetables that are glamorous and exciting until they enter your mouth, I thought I'd add a post about the weird fruits equivalent, dragon fruit. Dragon fruit is one of the most dramatic pieces of produce I've encountered. It is thought to originate in Southern Mexico, but I know it from trips to Vietnam, where half of my family is originally from. Our visits are usually divided by enough time for me to forget just how disappointing the taste of dragon fruit is compared to its appearance.

The best of them can be sweet, but in general the flesh of dragon fruit is watery and bland. This quality in itself can sometimes be pleasing, as with jicama, but jicama looks like a bland, hairy root whereas dragon fruits scream out to be eaten with their waxy hot pink skin that shoots off into green-tinged flaming scales. If I were a designer for Street Fighter, I would make it an option to be able to shoot dragon fruit fireballs at people.

To return to our bittersweet story, not only does the throbbing pink outer layer invite potential seed carriers to rip it open and sample the glories within, but once you cut into the fruit, the soft inside has the most charming polka-dot pattern, like poppy seeds in a white cake. It's still a refreshing fruit, especially on a hot day when water alone doesn't hydrate in all the ways you need, but I'd say dragon fruit is at its best on display. Below is the fruit plate from the family luncheon we had before my brother Minh's wedding in Saigon last summer.

Since finding a tasty dragon fruit is such a difficult feat, I'd say don't buy one unless you're already in a tropical clime where this kind of fruit is cheap. If you're in the U.S., just touch it, say, "ah," and walk away. Aliases include: hylocereus undatus, pitahaya, and strawberry pear. The Trade Winds Fruit site has a nice, meaty entry for those hungry for more information.

1 comment:

ANDREA! said...

the throbbing pink outer layer

that's all i have to say.

I need to try this polka-dotted wonder!!!!