Recommending: Fruit (And Why the Word “Exotic” Is Nonsense)

You like fruit?

I do.

Like…a lot.

So today we’re gonna talk about how much I fucking love “exotic” fruit, and why I think you should give it a shot. 

But first let’s unpack “exotic.” I have a problem with this word because it assumes that anything not homegrown right here on good ol’ US soil is somehow “other” and is sold to us as such. There was a time when the grocery store treated mangos like they were some kind of fabulous Roma belly-dancing show. It’s a mango, Kroger…relax. Just because I eat international fruit doesn’t mean I get to feel like some pimply explorer telling the natives that they’re food is “weird.” So, throughout this fruity talk we’re about to have remember that fruit may be unfamiliar, but it’s not weird. In fact, it’s often delicious, especially if you’re not all Columbus Day racist about it. 

I’m a huge nerd. So when I wander the halls of the grocery store I look around the produce section like a wide-eyed culinary Luke in the Star Wars cantina. “What’s that?!” “What’s this?!” I’m constantly looking and squeezing and googling fruit to find out what’s going on with Cherimoyas and Persimmons and Jackfruits.

(Side note: jackfruit is one of the greatest tragedies of my white privileged life. I bought this big spiny bastard of a fruit and, after eating a quarter of it, my face swelled up like mid 2000s Mickey Rourke. It was a bad scene. People gawked. My lips looked like cut segments of a pink garden hose, my cheeks looked like I was storing acorns for the winter. Curiosity kills the cat, but in my case curiosity about a 10 pound fruit covered in spines turned a cat into a chipmunk that had to be sent home from his job at Starbucks.)

So all aboard the motherfucking fruit train. If you can find a fruit you’ve never heard of, buy it, eat it, experience it. And start with my favorite fruit in the world: the prickly pear. 

This thing grows on cacti and it’s pure juicy purple magic. Eat it with gloves because it’s covered in nettles, but cut it into quarter segments and enjoy the pulpy consistency, the mild sweetness, and the delightful color of the prickly pear.

I found my first prickly pear (or cactus pear if you’re nasty) at a Midwestern chain grocer’s and my whole world changed. It fucked up my hands (again, wear gloves, shit is so real) and I was pulling little spines out of my juice-stained fingers for hours, but it was worth it. It was so worth it I drove back for more that night (at midnight. Big kudos to the 24-hour staff at the Delaware Ohio Meijer…you’re all heroes to me).

The world of fruit is out there for you, friends. All of it can be found and savored for the rest of your now slightly more adventurous lives. Welcome to a world of dragon fruit and mangosteen and fruit you can’t read the handwritten labels for and just have to guess. 
Just, again, don’t be a racist about it. These fruit aren’t “exotic,” just new to you. 

Find your own prickly pear out there, good people. 

Find the fruit that grows for you.

Bite into it. 


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