MangosteenWhat can I say about this fruit?  It was practically a religious experience.  It was really that delicious.  Originally from the Moluccas of Indonesia, it’s now grown in South America.  I wish I’d taken a picture of the inside of the fruit – it was somewhat shocking to open it up.  For some reason I expected it to look like passion fruit, but in actuality it looked more like orange segments covered in fluffy white mold.  It was so horrifying I almost didn’t taste it, but I’m glad I did. Because it was insanely delicious. A little like banana, without the smushiness.  If that’s a word, which spell check tells me it’s not. 

ME: What is this?

LAUREN: Mangosteen!

ME: What do you think it looks like?

(No answer)

ME: A mangosteen?

LAUREN: Well the top looks like a flower.

EMMA: A fowers. (flowers)

LAUREN: And the bottom really looks like a flower.

ME: It does, because it came out of a flower. Flowers are the beginning of all fruit.

SAM: This looks like a fire ball.

ME: Is it hot?

LAUREN: Well, you can always imagine with your mind that there’s a big tractor and it has a line, and there’s a fruit on the bottom that’s a bomb.

ME: Interesting. 

ME: If you shake it does it make a sound?

ME: Lauren let Emma shake it.  Emma, what do you say?

EMMA: Tank goo.

ME: What is the sound?

LAUREN: The sound is like….

SAM: Mermaids!

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Cuke-asaurusThis was a total experiment, but I just had to pick it up because I had a hunch my kids would go for a fruit that looked like (and is named after) a dinosaur.  It was so spiky that even after digging around online, I still have no idea how you’re supposed to eat it.  If you go to the Cuke-asaurus website, most of the pictures show it hollowed out as a vehicle for alcoholic drinks and vegetable dips.  Seems like a potential gold mine for the farmers – a $4 vegetable that has very few practical applications.  Or maybe it was a stroke of genius to create something that looks like a dinosaur.  Because the kids are still hounding me to get another one.

ME: Apparently this is called a Cuke-asaurus. Maybe because it looks like a dinosaur cucumber.

SAM: (Gasp)

ME: What do you think it looks like?

LAUREN: A blow up fish and a spiky dinosaur’s body.

ME: Yes. Great description.  What do you think Sam?

SAM: Uh, the dinosaur’s fire.

ME: That’s a really good one too.

ME: What do you think it feels like?

LAUREN: It’s pretty sharp, and it feels like kind of knife-ish.

ME: Ok, now give it to Sam. Sam’s turn.  OK, Sam’s starting to breath fire because you won’t let him touch it. He’s like a real dinosaur.

(Lauren finally passes)

SAM: It feels like, uh, prickly fire.

ME: What do you think it looks like on the inside?

LAUREN: A smooth plate-ish. A smooth circlish thing.

ME: When you shake it does it make a sound?

EMMA: (grabs it) Waaaaah (crying), hurt the finger!!

ME: I know, it has spikes, it hurts when you touch it. 

ME: OK, let me cut it open.  What does it look like?

LAUREN: It looks like a yellow cucumber inside.

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Has anyone ever seen one of these things?  You might have passed it by in the grocery store, and headed straight to the freezer section where you discretely speed-dialed customer service, wanting to report the rotting fruit at the front of the store.  But it’s not rotting, it’s actually edible, and pretty darn good! (That is, if you’re into oranges, because it’s essentially an orange’s less attractive, but really nice sister.  And yes, you should feel bad for it.  I do.).  So if you really want to embarrass your children, send them off to school with one of these nestled into the lunchbox and don’t expect to be greeted at pickup with a flurry of hugs and kisses. 

ME: OK guys, here’s the….what is this called again?

LAUREN: Uh, Ugly fruit!

ME: Oh, no, she just called it an ugly fruit.  That’s so mean.  Do you think it’s an ugly fruit?

LAUREN: Yeah, it looks ugly, but, actually, I think it tastes good.

ME: Have you had it before?

LAUREN: No, but I think it tastes good.

SAM: (Holding it up) I’m going to marry you!

ME: Oh, Sam, that’s so nice of you, what a gentleman.  Why are you going to marry it?  Because you feel bad for it? 

SAM: (no answer, just a confused look.  Maybe he said “I’m going to carry you.”)

ME: What does it smell like?

LAUREN: Hmmm, it has a strong smell.

ME: It’s like a genie in a bottle, if you rub it, it will smell even stronger.

ME: What does it smell like now?

LAUREN: I think it smells like a stroooong orange.

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Oh, figs, glorious fruit.  Did I mention that eating figs and learning to cook with them was the capstone of my year in Berkeley?  They were on every menu, usually swaddled in prosciutto or paired with blue cheese. Note to restaurants: stop using the term “bleu” cheese.  It does not make your bar snacks any fancier.  If I want fancy, I will go to Per Se, not Gordon Biersch. And yeah, you saw that right, those were potato chips on the menu, topped with “bleu” cheese.  And by the way, I can’t actually afford Per Se.  I thought my kids would fall head over heels in love with figs like I did.  And then the damn thing wasn’t ripe enough.  

ME: So guys, this one is called a……..

LAUREN: A pumpkin?

SAM: A pumpkin?

SAM: Orange?

SAM: Banana?

ME: It’s called a fig!

SAM: Figs look like this (holding it up)

ME: What does it look like?

SAM: It looks like a mandarin orange.

LAUREN: I have lots of descriptions.  When you hold it upside down it looks like a hot air balloon.  And when you tip it over like this (holding sideways), it looks like a thin pumpkin.

ME: Did you guys feel it?


EMMA: Elmo did it.

SAM: It looks like a volcano.

ME: Let me cut it open and you can see the inside.

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CoconutWhat’s with the strawberry and banana theme?  Maybe the kids were knocking back strawberry banana Pina Coladas on some kind of kids’ night out.  I blame our trip to Jamaica last year.  They clearly snuck out while Rodney and I were sleeping.  I’ve been somewhat nervous to try coconut at home with Lauren because of her nut allergies.  Even though she’s never reacted to it in her blood tests, I don’t trust those results 100%.  But she was fine, which is great because I love to cook with it – baking, curries, granola.  You name it.  We just weren’t psyched to eat it straight from the shell.

ME: “Ok you guys each want a piece of coconut?”

ME: “Here we go, what does it look like?”

SAM: “It looks like strawberry coconut water.”

ME: “I want you to describe something without saying the words strawberry or banana.”

SAM: “Banana.”

ME: “I want you to stretch your brain.  So, so far.  What does it look like? Stretch it out.”

SAM: “A banana.”

ME: “Lauren, what do you think?”

LAUREN: “I think looking at Sam’s it looks like an ice cream cone.  Without the ice cream.”

ME: “What do you think about the color?”

LAUREN: “White!”

ME: “Sam, what about you?”

SAM: “Strawberry–colored.”

ME: “What does it sound like when you knock it on the ground?”

LAUREN: “I think when you rub it, it sounds like bees.”

ME: “Interesting.”

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