|Farmer Margie of Bee Haven Farm handling some urgent farm business on the phone|
|Edible flowers! A really nice way to dress up your salad or dining room table|
|My latest obsession - Redland Red Skin Potatoes|
|Heirloom pole beans|
|Nope, those aren't carrots, those are radishes!|
|Free-Range Organic Chicken eggs - I was SO happy to see these|
|More radishes, these are the red & green "Watermelon" variety|
|Things were buzzing at the Bee Haven Tent!|
Being abnormally attracted to strange things, I immediately asked Farmer Margie what they were. "Loquats" she answered. Ah, that most unfortunately named fruit. I had heard about them on occasion but at last it was nice to "put a face to a name". And WHAT a name, LOQUAT...I mean, come on...Loquat rhymes with "squat"...and nothing good ever happened in a sentence that contained the word "squat". Not being one to turn down an opportunity to sample an unfamiliar flavor, I looked beyond the name and picked up a box to take home.
Originally from southeastern China & southern Japan, Loquats are also known as "Japanese Plums". It is a fruit with a long and globetrotting history. Horticulturists have had a field day with the Loquat, creating, discovering, cataloging and promoting over 800 different varieties since the 1700's. Alas, like most things from abroad, Loquats found a welcome, sunny home in the fertile soil of South Florida sometime around 1867. For more "specific & scientific" information on this curious fruit, visit the Perdue University - School of Horticulture site.
Meanwhile, back at the lab...I put my paring knife to work and sliced into one. Whats inside? Two to three shiny seeds and from there...nothing but firm, juicy golden colored flesh, ripe (pardon the pun) for the snacking. The flavor and consistency is very much like a plum except with a beautiful hint of citrus flavor, it's tangy and sweet at the same time. My mouth was very happy...
That was it, I was hooked, I am now officially "loco for loquats". Being as Loquat season is just kicking off, my palate is on the long, delicious road to Tasty-Town for the next few months. The wheels in my brain are now turning as to what to do with this new found treasure. Jam? Ice Cream? Sweet & tangy BBQ sauce? Maybe a simple little Loquat gallette? Who knows!...these ideas will "transmogrify" themselves into local goodness in the coming weeks so stay tuned...(my thanks to Calvin & Hobbes for the questionably used vocab word...I knew those hours of reading would pay off!) In short, these tangy, sweet & delicious fruit have found a home in my kitchen for many seasons to come and for that, I am happy.
Now mind you, Loquats aren't the kind of thing you find at your local grocery store and this is due to various reasons. Among them are consumer demand, possible shipping & storage issues and the publics general lack of familiarity with the fruit. The good news though is that down here in South Florida, it IS the sort of thing you can encounter at your local farmers market with relative frequency.
As consumers we are so used to thinking of fruit as "grapes, apples, bananas & oranges" but luckily down here in South Florida we are exposed to a universe of different fruits and vegetables, many of which are available year round.
|This is what shows up when you Google "Fruit"...tell me Loquats aren't sexy now!|
|Canistel or "egg fruit" - a creamy, sweet orange colored fruit that's worth a taste|
|Dragonfruit in bloom|
|Bumpy, lumpy, sweet and delicious Dragonfruit|
|The softer side of the Dragonfruit - edible, seeds and all|
Nine times out of ten, what happens is you "discover" something new and delicious and all of a sudden, the unfamiliar becomes familiar. You now have new tastes to savor and new ingredients to experiment with, plus you'll have something cool to show your friends from up north when they come down to visit. In the meantime you've helped sustain variety in our markets as well as contributed to the livelihoods of farmers in your community. All for eating a simple piece of fruit. Just goes to show that small gestures can often make a big difference.
|Looking for unfamiliar AND delicious, scoop up some Romesco - it's like a very tender broccoli and so good|
|This weeks haul - Fresh eggs, radishes, collards, Rangpur limes, lettuce, parsley, grape tomatoes, red skin potatoes & turnips. All organic and all under $40 bucks. Compare that to your next grocery store receipt|
Keep it local, keep it fresh, keep it on Redroots!