Jicama

I just learned that I’ve been pronouncing jicama the wrong way my whole life.  It’s not a short “i”, like “hit”, but a more pronounced “ee”.  And now I can’t stop thinking about the Ricola ads with someone yelling from a mountaintop “Hee-ca-maaaa”.  But cough drops aside, jicama has high kid appeal.  I have no idea why we don’t use it more, except for the fact that it can be a little challenging to track down.  It’s sweeter than most vegetables, with a subtle apple-like flavor.  You can cut it up, put it into baggies and it won’t brown on you like other root veggies (e.g. potatoes).  Not that you’d want to feed your kids raw potatoes. My kids have already accused me of doing that.  But try it out and see how it goes, you just may have found another item to add to the short list of vegetables your kids will actually eat.

LAUREN: “I think it looks like an onion.  And a coconut.”

ME: “OK, why?”

LAUREN: “Because it’s white on the inside.”

ME: “And what about the size?”

LAUREN: “It’s kind of medium.”

ME: “Not big?”

LAUREN: “Not that big.”

SAM: “Yes it is.”

ME: “Sam thinks it’s big, do you disagree?”

LAUREN: “Yeah.  I think watermelon is bigger than jicama.  Cause watermelon WEIGHS more than jicama.  And it looks more bigger than jicama.”

SAM: “But the size of this [points to a lemon] is so small.”

ME: “What does it smell like?”

LAUREN: “Like a fresh morning of spring.  Flowers and a garden.”

SAM: “It smells like a mustache.”

LAUREN: “Well, if you put it under your nose it smells like one.”

SAM: “It smells like a big, big onion.”

ME: “What does it feel like?”

LAUREN: “A little rough like dirt.”

ME: “What about you Sam?”

SAM: “It looks beautiful if I scratch it.”

ME: “What does it taste like?”

LAUREN: “I think it tastes really really sweet.  Like apples.”

EMMA: (Running over from the sidelines) “Wahn smeow it.” (Want to smell it)

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pea shoots 247Pea shoots are a strange thing.  My kids say they look like “weeds” or “trees” yet eat them with reckless abandon.  I think they were amazed by the fact that although pea shoots may look like weeds, they actually taste like peas.  They’re sweet and crisp, and easy to mix into salads to change up your usual routine.

ME: “So these things are called pea shoots.  Have you guys ever seen these before?”

LAUREN: “It sounds like a rattle when you shake them.”

SAM: “It sounds like a drum.”

What do the leaves look like?

LAUREN: “Like leaves growing out of the ground in the garden.  Like weeds.”

And what do they taste like?”

SAM: “Plants.”

M: “What kind of plants?”

SAM: “Trees.  I love them.”

ME: “You know what they are?  They’re the tiny little shoots of the peas that are starting to grow.  You know what peas are right?”

SAM: “Edamame.”

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Husk cherriesI’ve seen these guys go by a number of different names.  I saw them first as husk cherries at the farmers’ market last summer, so that’s how I now refer to them.  But other names include groundcherries and Cape Gooseberries.  They look and feel a little like tomatillos with a papery outer skin that reveals a slightly sticky berry.  I love the flavor- if a cherry tomato, pineapple, and banana were to get busy, this is what you’d end up with.

ME:  “Husk cherries anyone?”

What does it feel like?

LAUREN:  “It looks like there’s a present inside.”

SAM:  “Mine has a meatball.”

ME: “A meatball?”

ME “DON’T EAT IT!  That one’s moldy. Let’s find you another one.”

What does it smell like?”

LAUREN:  “I think it smells like bananas.”

SAM:  “I’m going to roll it like a pizza.”

What does it taste like?

LAUREN:  “I don’t like it.”

ME:  “You haven’t told me why.”

LAUREN:  “I don’t like the seeds.  And it’s too sweet.”

SAM:  “I don’t want to taste it.  I think it’s a ball that can bounce on the ground.”

LAUREN:  “Can we do starfruit again?”

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Sumo-mandarinI love this big orange.  Whoever decided to combine the easy peel-ability of the mandarin orange with the size and juiciness of a navel is clearly some kind of fruit goddess.  It’s not the prettiest fruit, definitely not the kind you’d want to have on display in your kitchen in a big glass bowl.  It’s like the shar-pei of the fruit world, so ugly that it’s actually kind of cute.  Its deeply textured skin makes it look more like an old man’s nose than something you’d want to eat. But once you get past that gnarled exterior, heaven awaits.

ME: So this crazy thing is called a sumo mandarin.  It’s a cross between a navel orange and a mandarin.

What does it look like?

SAM:  “Round and round and round, like a volcano. On the top it looks like exploding fire.”

LAUREN:  “It looks like a balloon upside down.”

What does it feel like?

LAUREN:  “Thick.  It’s thick when I scratch it.”

What does it smell like?

LAUREN:  “It smells like a real orange.”

Who’s ready to try this real orange?

ME:  “First I take off the volcano top.   The cool thing about it is that it peels like a mandarin orange….”

SAM:  “But inside it’s a real orange!”

ME:  “Do you guys love it?

LAUREN:  “This orange is hairy.”

ME:  “Don’t throw those strings on the ground!”

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StarfruitThe starfruit is interesting to me because it has so much untapped potential.  I generally see it on top of fruit salads to make them pretty, when this is actually the worst thing you could do to this subtle fruit.  Much like eating a delicate goat cheese after starting with a funky blue, once you eat any other kind of fruit, this one tastes like…nothing.  But there are some beautiful apple-banana-pineapple notes that are noticeable when eaten alone. 

What is this?

LAUREN:  “I forgot the name.  But I’ve seen it.”

How many senses do we have guys?

SAM:  “Three!”

RODNEY:  “That’s right Sam!”

ME:  “Let’s pretend Daddy didn’t say that.”

What do you see?

LAUREN:  “I see that they’re like stars.  Like they’re kind of brownish yellow.”

SAM: “I see big stars.”

What does it smell like?

SAM: “Strawberries.”

LAUREN:  “Salad!”

What does it feel like?

LAUREN:  “Wet.”

SAM: “I hear nothing!”

What does it taste like?

LAUREN:  “Like it.”

SAM: “Is it a smashed lemon?

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