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Exotic Fruit Introduction to U.S. Expands Our Palate?

My introduction to the Pomegranate was, no kidding, in 7th grade social studies.  Our teacher brought in a pomegranate as a part of lesson on fruits that settlers of the Americas enjoyed in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.  In the mid-80’s it was an uncommon fruit not frequently found at the local supermarket and a bit of a treat to see this “living history” up close.

We passed the pomegranate fruit around the class as each student carefully extracted a couple of the seeds to taste and ponder.  It was an exotic treat (and a staining treat as well; a couple of kid’s shirts did not come out of the fruit interaction unscathed—despite the teachers’ warnings).  Assuredly, this pomegranate eating was much more exciting then the firefighters delivering apples in October. Early palate training, it was. 

In the intervening years between then and, say, 2004 I didn’t hear much about the pomegranate.  It remained a seldom seen fruit, a relic in my childhood memory bank.  Then, it seems, marketing took over as pomegranate juice and pomegranate flavored everything exploded onto the market.

Nowadays the Pomegranate and its various derivations from juice to jam are commonplace.  And, as a result, based on the palate training of enjoying this once seldom seen and now oft eaten fruit, you now see pomegranate show up in tasting notes more often.  It seems only natural—the hundreds of flavor nuances you can find in various grape varietals will lend themselves to flavor matching once our palates are adept at picking them up.

The Litchi (or lychee as it is also known) shows up occasionally, as well.  This exotic Asian fruit is increasingly seen fresh and canned in grocer’s international foods aisle. 

While shopping this past weekend and subsequently doing some studying in the Macmillan Visual Food Encyclopedia (a must for any home kitchen worth its sea salt) I think we’re on the cusp of another wave of fruits that will find their way into our kitchens and subsequently our wine tasting lexicon.

If I’m buying starfruit and horned melons in Indianapolis, IN then I know these exotic fruits are “Playing Peoria.”

Herewith, a list of five fruits to get acquainted with as you’ll want to familiarize yourself with them and add them to your flavor memory:

Mangosteen: a Southeast Asian fruit with a unique taste, with subtleness to its strawberry-ish and peachy cream flavor

Starfruit:  A Latin American fruit, and grown elsewhere, as well. It’s acidic with a sweet-tart flavor that has the consistency of an apple with pineapple and kiwi notes with less overall sweetness

Horned melon:  Native to New Zealand these peculiar looking fruits taste like cucumber tinged with pleasant lemon. 

Uniq fruit:  Native to Jamaica, you may have seen this in your citrus section as the “ugli” fruit.  Naturally, I think the marketers are working on changing that to “uniq.”  This is a juicy citrus fruit with a nicely sweet citrus taste that reminds you of a mandarin orange with a little more zing.

Cherimoya: Another Latin American fruit, the Cherimoya has a firm texture allowing it to be eaten like an apple, with a flavor profile that is much softer—nicely tropical, but not definable. 

Of course, there are other fruits that are gaining in exposure—fruits that we’re familiar with by name, if not by actual taste—gooseberry, guava, kumquats, quince and jujube, amongst others.  Check these out, too.

Life is an experiment.  Next time you’re in the produce aisle pick up a couple of these exotic fruits if for no other reason than palate training.  And, look at my tasting notes in the future—I’m dying to work in a Cherimoya reference. 


Posted in, Good Grape Daily: Pomace & Lees. Permalink | Comments (1) |


On 01/16, swirlingnotions wrote:

Cool post. Thanks!


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