Sunday, December 10, 2006

Kumquat? Really?

There are a few words that I still don’t believe are real. Kumquat is one of those words. It sounds like a made up word, like those used in some cartoons or statistics textbooks. I didn’t know that kumquats existed for the longest time. [I was also shocked to my very core to find out that road runners are actual birds that actually live and really do run]. This is not a fruit that I was brought up eating or even being aware of. But they do exist, and this being the season of all that is citrus, they abound.

As I wandered aimlessly through Whole Foods (I have no time for museums but at least there is still Whole Foods) I decided that today would be the day I tried a kumquat. I brought the little plastic box home and stared at it for a good bit. I had no idea what I was in for. I knew that kumquats are meant to be eaten whole, the rind and all. This appealed to me greatly as I love citrus rind – I have a bizarre habit of eating lemon slices, complete with rind. This is certain to be a left over from when I was little - my grandfather and I would stare at each other to see who would flinch first from eating big pieces of lemon. It was a very tame sort of show-down. He let me win.

That unwarranted digression aside, I had no real idea what to expect from a kumquat. They turned out to be very odd sort of little creatures. Their rind is sweet with mild bitterness in the shadows; the tartness of the flesh seems to vary from one fruit to the next. Some are sweet all the way through, some pop with sourness. It’s a bit of an acidity roulette (yes, I know I am a dork. A sleepy dork, at the moment). The really cool part of the kumquat is its truly bizarre textural contrast – the spongy and slightly resistant rind gives way to an interior that seems effervescent, almost carbonated. The batch I have has quite a few seeds. I don’t know if this is the norm, but it may render kumquats not entirely suited to polite company – there is a bit of spitting and sorting involved.

The next step in my kumquat adventure, having conquered not only their name but their entire uncooked selves, is to make kumquat preserves or relish which is a common use for these mythical little things. Next on my list of weird fruit to try: quince; next weird word to become accustomed to: graduation.


Anonymous said...

I've never tried kumquat. That is a funny little word, isn't it? I want to try them now. Never had quince either. Have you ever had durian? That's a weird fruit. Smells like crap, but tastes good! I think the weirdest fruit I've ever had was in Taiwan, I don't even know the name of it. It was fairly round, about plum-sized. When you opened it up there were lots of seeds in it and a bright-red, runny, sweet juice inside. I must figure out what that was!

Are you graduating this semester?

By the way, it's jc, beta isn't taking my password!

Anna said...

Hi JC, I looked up durian - very weird. I have never had it but it looked totally scary inside. Rather fetal, actually. Sorry that was gross. Very curious about the Taiwanese fruit. You haven't seen it Stateside?

I am (potentially) graduating in June, Nov at the latest. Wow. Six years do fly.
Congratulations on being done with your papers!

Ben said...

Hey guys,

It is either a pomegranate or passion fruit. Most likely pomegranate since it is red. But both have nice little packages...wait did I just say that? I am such a fruit. Get it? har har.

If you want an "exotic" fruit, try a durian. We affectionately call it the "ass" fruit. Any more Taiwan questions? You have a subject matter expert here ;-)

This is Ben. Same problem.

Anonymous said...

This is jc again. Stupid beta! I guess I'm going to have to switch soon.

I haven't seen that fruit here. I'm guessing that since it's tropical it would have to be frozen, and that would ruin it. I've been trying to research it the last couple of days and I haven't been able to find anything! Now I have a mission!

Are you getting your doctorate?

amanda said...

Congradulations, DR! how cool. i don't think i could make it through that much school (i stopped after my bachelors, but still think about going back). you know, i had never eaten a kumquat until i move to baton rouge and there were kumquat trees everywhere. (i had also never eaten a fresh fig off the tree before then) i still totally love them but i've never cooked with them before. and i've never eaten a quince! jeez, you'd think i'm not interested in food by listening to me. i can't wait to see what you do with kumquats!

Rachael said...

Graduation IS hard to get used to...but we all manage.

As for kumquats, the best part? Botanically...NOT CITRUS.

Go figure.

"Although kumquats closely resemble citrus (and the fruit is often sold as such), they are actually species of Fortunella."

Anna said...

Rachael - According to the authority (or not) that is Wikipedia, Fortunella is a subgenus of the genus Citrus. I guess that makes it a distant cousin of the standard, every day orange. Your point is well taken, however. I need to be more careful with my background. Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

Anonymous said...

I don't blog, or usually read blogs, but I love fruit and surfing brought me here.

1) Durin rocks. If you eat it frozen you can bypass the smell. It's like uber-rich satin smooth icecream. Mother Nature indeed knows best.

2) Kunquats were born to be eaten while drinking sake. Do it. Seriously. Mmmmmm bliss.

Last note - nothing beats a persimmon. Buy the little guys who look like tomatos. They have a nice crunch and a subtle sweetness - like an apple but lightly purfumed into an exotic excellence.

Happy eating!