Mighty Life List
Apr 20 2009

Mighty Life List: Taste 1,000 Fruits, 2-7

While I’m in New York, Alice and I buy some exotic fruits from a gourmet grocer. We meet Sarah and Zan at my hotel bar, order a bottle of wine, and ask for a knife and some plates. The host offers to slice the fruits, to which Alice replies, “Hotels do everything for you. ‘I’ve brought you my baby, will you please circumsize him? Thank you.'”

After some light circumcision banter, we dig right in. Here are fruits two through seven:

2. Cape Gooseberries or Ground Cherries

I’ve tried these before, but they’re excellent. The texture is like a cherry tomato, only with a slightly thicker, sticky skin. Like giant salmon eggs.

They taste vibrant, like juicy orange Starbursts. Crowd favorite.

3. Horned Melon

I see these a lot at grocery stores, but I’d never tried one.

They’re small for a melon, about the size of my hand, but the inside?

Whaaaa? Did you expect a florescent green jelly interior with giant cucumber seeds? They should use these as flesh for scenes in movies when they cut into aliens and then the alien is all unexpected just beneath its humanoid skin.

Exciting! It smells fresh and very green, like unripe grapes.

The texture is amazing, but the flavor is less spectacular. It tastes like sweet cucumber, or the green fuzzy fruit that surrounds an almond shell. We all settle on “very fresh cucumber gummy bears.”

4. Sweet Galia Melon

Get a loada this melon!

The Sweet Galia Melon tasted like a more subtle, juicier honeydew. Eh. Good thing I spiced things up with the boob picture.

5. Feijoa

When I was little, my good friend and I terrified her mother by admitting we’d been gorging ourselves on these from a tree in the backyard. Her Mom had no idea whether they were poisonous at the time, but we assured her we’d been eating them for weeks. Great.

Sarah says they smell like one of those scented plastic babydolls we could get when we were kids — sort of a vanilla smell with pleasant offgassing just beneath it. You don’t eat the peel, but the edible seeds float in a translucent creamy gel. They taste a bit like kiwis with a mellow pineapple aftertaste. Mmmm.

6. Cactus Pear

This is the fruit of a cactus, which left tiny infuriating spines in my fingers.

Stupid Cactus Pear.

Look at the inside though! Gorgeous and bloody, like a beet. It smells like cut grass and cucumber.
We try it, and everyone feels deceived. Comparisons include “mealy cucumber with thick pumpkin seeds inside,” “celery with the flavor of a dry, less sweet watermelon.” Did we get a bad one? Blech.

7. Passionfruit

Passionfruit has a purple exterior that’s like a thin pumpkin shell. When you open it up, it’s another holy moly:

The inside looks slightly animal, the way a fig does. It has tendrils attached to orange goo with bright green crunchy seeds that pop when you chew them.

Sarah said it smelled like the Body Shop, and the goo has the flavor of a perfectly ripe, tart mango. With the pleasant crunch of the seeds, it reminded me a lot of orange flavored Pop Rocks. So we ordered some Coke to see if our stomachs would explode.

Delicious! The end.

31 Responses to “Mighty Life List: Taste 1,000 Fruits, 2-7”

  • Emily Says:

    Ohhhh I’m the first to comment, yess! :) Maggie I LOVE your quest to try 1,000 fruits! Your Feijoa story reminded me of a fruit I used to eat *all the time* with my sister where we grew up in Tucson, AZ but I have no idea what it is called. It was small and orange like a kumquat but you could eat the skin. It tasted sweet and a little bit peachy as i recall, with one large slightly slimy seed in the middle. If this sounds familiar to you or anyone who reads this let me know! Looking forward to seeing what other fruits you’ll try.

  • Sarah Brown Says:

    I’m glad you posted this, because I’ve been craving that gummi bear fruit and couldn’t remember its name.

  • Jen Says:

    Cactus pears with their sharp little spines really PISS ME OFF. I hate them. They are my nemesis.

    However, you can remove them easily with duct tape. Just stick the sticky part to your finger, or wherever the offending spine is, and remove. The spine will stick to the tape leaving you boo-boo free!

  • Maria Says:

    When I spent a summer in Mexico we ate cactus pears every single day (oddly called “Tuna” in spanish). However ours were green on the inside and tasted like really watery melons. Delicious and perfect on a hot day!

  • Emily Says:

    I figured out what the fruit is! It’s a Loquat! Here’s a picture: http://www.tropicalfruitnursery.com/images/Loquat-lg.jpg If you have the opportunity to taste this one don’t pass it up!

  • Jessica Says:

    Gooseberries? The ones I have had were green, and seriously pucker-your-face-right-off tart. And they grow on prickly sticker bushes that try to maul your hands right off. Yours sound much better!

  • Megan Says:

    A bartender here in Munich showed us late one night how you take a passion fruit, cut it in half, and balance it in the top of a shot glass. Take a sugar cube or two (brown if you have it) in a spoon, give it a good dose of rum and flame it. Once it starts to caramelize, dump the concoction into the passion fruit, stir to loosen the seeds and then scoop out the flesh in spoonfuls (with another slash of rum if need be).

    The sweet balances the sour, with a nice smokey caramel note. Plus the ritual-like preparation has an appeal similar to absinthe without having to worry about keeping your ears attached.

    We sometimes do this for dinner parties as a twist on dessert and digestifs.

  • Sarah Says:

    Prickly pear fruit are wonderful right off the cactus on a summer evening. I usually use a stick and my pocket knife. You can make great jelly from the juice. Also, try to add agarita and dewberries to your list. They’re my personal favorites.

  • laura Says:

    Would you mind sharing the name of the alleged ‘gourmet grocer’?

  • Lee Says:

    Oh man, Loquats are delicious! I’ve never found them at a grocery store, though. In SoCal, you can find them on ornamental trees in public areas, and/or in friendly neighbors’ yards. Most people don’t know they’re edible, which just means more for me! Season’s just about over now, though. They peak in March.

    Also – Megan, that passion fruit concoction sounds AMAZING.

  • sevedra Says:

    My favorite non-standard fruit is Kumquats. I can’t wait until you feature those!

    I am intersted in this fruit quest of yours. I might have to start buying odd bits of fruit myself. Just for fun. I don’t have a Life List and with three kids, I am just trying to make it day to day most of the time. Maybe I’ll do a Life List in a couple years though.

    1000 fruits? Do you think there really are that many? I would have thought a few hundred. But maybe. I am certainly going to trail along behind you to find out!

  • wendy Says:

    I concur about the prickly pear (tuna). We had them in Chile regularly but they were green and tasted a bit like kiwi but with the seeds you didn’t want to bite down into. There i a special way to eat them too, where you cut of the sides and separate the heart from the rind, like this: http://photos.igougo.com/images/p216780-Mexico_City-Peeled_tuna.jpg

  • Clare Says:

    How strange that gooseberries appear to be different in America! In Britain, they are widely eaten and look like this – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gooseberry. They are really sour and delicious. Gooseberry Fool is a classic pudding that your mum would probably know how to make, were she British.

  • Heather-in-Australia Says:

    Yummo. Passionfruit pulp scooped over good quality vanilla ice cream = delicious, too (childhood & current favourite :)).

  • Dani Says:

    I LOOOOOOOOVE passionfruit. On the way home from my honeymoon they gave us sundae’s with pashionfruot on top. It was the best thing ever!

  • Marmy Says:

    I think those are Cape Gooseberries. I too grew up with the wonderfully uber-tart tiny green gooseberries.

  • Thérèse Says:

    You make me want to add “try many many fruits” to my life list too. Mmmm, fruit.

    The passionfruit looks a little… like boogies. I’m oddly intrigued.

  • Maggeh Says:

    #5 Emily, I’ve had lowquats too, they’re delicious. And I’ve never had them except off the tree either.

    #7 Megan, that sounds amazing. I wish passionfruit were more widely available here.

    #9 Laura, I have no idea what it was called or even where it was. We sort of stumbled upon it while we were out walking.

    #11 Sevedra, Kumquats are coming up soon, actually. There are far, far more than a thousand, especially if you count not just apples, but different varieties of apples, and so on.

    #16 Marmy, you’re right! Those are Cape Gooseberries. I’ll change the name accordingly. Thank you.

  • Ali Says:

    I never really thought of passionfruit and feijoas as being exotic fruits because I ate them all the time growing up. Feijoas are really yummy with vanilla icecream, and passionfruit is great in ambrosia.
    and now i’m reminded of tamarillos which i used to eat all the time, but haven’t had one in years

  • Franca Bollo Says:

    Prickly pear fruit is big in Sicily (like the Mexicans, I don’t know if they eat the leaves). Fortunately, my relatives did all the de-prickling before serving. Blood oranges are everywhere, too. When you asked for orange juice, that’s what they served. Here, when there’s tomato juice on the buffet, I have to stop and remind myself that it’s not blood orange juice.

    I have a friend who has a passionfruit plant (tree? bush?) in her garden so when they’re in season, I’m a lucky recipient!

  • PearlBerries Says:

    My husband has heard about your site but never saw it. I chose to use the melon boob picture as introduction. I think it sums you up nicely.

  • zan Says:

    Mmm, horned melon. What is it about those alien fruits that is so appealing? I was scraping those seeds off the plate with my bare hands.

    And I love that you are so charming a person that men willingly run into kitchens to bring you ever sharper knives.

  • Jill Says:

    Please try and find a Buddha’s Hand.

  • Mau Says:


    Nice melons. The cactus pears (aka ‘tunas cardonas’ in Mexico) are a delicacy, though.

  • Alex Says:

    If you ever see orange passionfruit, try them, and then tell me where you found them! We ate them all the time in Samoa (where I was a Peace Corps volunteer) and they’re much better than the purple ones. We could also get fantastic giant peach-colored bananas that I’ve never seen anywhere else. Clearly you need to go to the South Pacific for a fruit-tasting expedition!

  • alice Says:

    The market was Garden of Eden.

    My work here is done.

  • greyfavorite Says:

    Maggie, you make the mundane oddly compelling. I was at the grocery store today, passed a fruit* I’d never seen before, and thought, “Maggie would buy it.” Thanks for sharing your quest, and thanks for reminding me to eat more fruit.

    *kumquat, in case you wondered

  • Annie A. Says:

    You got a bad Tuna! They are delicious, and they can be red, green and yellow. Over here in Mexico you buy them already peeled so i’ve never dealt with the spines. I had a red tuna martini once in Playa del Carmen… OMG.

  • holly Says:

    I also recommend native australian finger limes, longan, custard fruit, dragon fruit, durian and lilly pilly fruit. I think the 1000 will be easy!

  • Rita Says:

    This post is rated “Succulent” by me.