A Tasting with Thing 3: Dragon Fruit

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Last night, we went to Wegman’s for dinner. Each kiddo selected his vittles from the food court buffet.

It was all my fault. I was just there Tuesday and mistakenly bought four bags of sliced turkey breast and two bags of roast beef but no bags of maple ham.

Either way, I had to go back, so I decided to make it all one deal. It being Wednesday, my busiest day, I suggested to my husband that we simply eat there. On Wednesdays I teach yoga to adults in the morning, then come home to sit on my ass fold laundry and tidy up the house and then I teach yoga to children again and then I come home to take Thing 2 to piano & voice and then careen through my ‘hood drive home to pick up Thing 3 for soccer practice. By the time dinner needs to be consumed, I am consumed. So Wednesdays are typically “take out night.”

Yesterday was somewhat of a break due to weather (so no soccer practice for the field was a marsh) and the piano & voice teacher was away. Nonetheless, we can’t let these little conveniences knock us off our imbalance to exist in a chaos-free existence… I had to stick to my guns and not cook.

So we headed into Wegman’s.

There it was:

Dragon Fruit. I do believe in dragons. And these are their eggs.  For if "fruit of thy womb" is referring to a baby, then this is a dragon egg.

Dragon Fruit. I now believe in dragons. And these are their eggs.
For if “fruit of thy womb” is referring to a baby, then this is a dragon egg.

“What the what….?” I asked. I was immediately drawn in, like a zombie to an inorganic rustling. “…Forget the buffet, I want the dragon egg…” 

“Can we get one? Can we get one?” T2 asked.

“But if we get only one and we like it then Mom has to trek all the way out here again to get another one, so we may as well get two.” T1 declared.

“But we don’t even know what it tastes like…” I said.

“It says here, it’s a combination of pineapple and kiwifruit…” T1 said. “We like those; I like pineapple and T2 likes kiwi …”

I’m thinking the back of my mind, “And T3 doesn’t like either of them…”

“But it’s $5.99 a pound. That dragon fruit better be loaded with gold. It’s heavy.” I said.

We selected two. The ones you see above.

Here’s some data from Wikipedia on dragon fruit:

Pitaya

A pitaya or pitahaya is the fruit of several cactus species. “Pitaya” usually refers to fruit of the genus Stenocereus, while “Pitahaya” or “Dragon fruit” always refers to fruit of the genus Hylocereus.

WHAT?

What the what is a hylocereus? “Stenocereus.” Sounds prehistoric.

Professor Jedediah held up the Pitaya, a sunbeam cast its way through the clouds, on to the earth and through the glass of the observatory. The students were enraptured, eyes wide and staring at the ruby, scaled egg-shaped form, a red hue reflects off the fruit onto Jedediah’s face. His mouth agape, drool stemming from his lower lip…

“Behold … pitahyah, not the pitaya from the Hylocerus….”

All eyes and heads turn upward as Jedediah raises the oval form above his head. The light in the room vanishes as the door cracks open.

A man in a dirty shirt, dusty and sweaty leans into the classroom, “No time to argue. Throw me the fruit, I throw you the whip…”

Oh… wait, back up… I see a word I recognize: “cactus.” Got it. No. If we read that again… we’re missing the part when Betsy gets to Chicago on the train heading east. Hylocereus … is that a cactus?

Fuhgedaboudit.

Anyway, we bought them. We didn’t eat any last night; we were too busy having family time in the hot tub. I decided to wait until today. I wasn’t convinced it wouldn’t have hatched overnight.

So Thing 3 and I discussed it this morning.

“You did buy it. I wasn’t sure,” he said.

I asked him if he wanted to try some. “The card near the fruit said it tastes like kiwifruit and pineapple.”

“But I don’t like either of those…” he reminded me.

“Let’s just try it.”

So I cut it open. It’s supple. The skin is dense and soft, like a banana. I was surprised by this.

It sorta looks like kiwi on the inside... in a random, unorganized, unkiwi-like way.  Right?

It sorta looks like kiwi on the inside… in a random, unorganized, unkiwi-like way.
Right?

Upon opening it, I found that it’s a very succulent fruit (hence, the cactus part… )

T3 backed up.

“Woah. That’s NOT what I was expecting,” he said.

“What were you expecting?”

“I dunno. Just not that. Maybe something red inside? You know, like strawberries. But they have their seeds on the outside.”

“Do you want to try it? Let’s smell it.” I suggested.

So like a couple of apes encountering a slice of pizza for the first time, I took a slice and sniffed it. I restrained myself from listening to it, rubbing it on my arm, patting it, throwing it on the floor or banging it into the counter.

T3 leaned in,  sniffed and grimaced, a little confused. “It doesn’t really smell like anything. I guess it smells like water.”

So I decided to try some.

Instinctively I decided to not eat the rind, which upon further research turned out to be a good idea because if you eat too much of the rind, your excrement will turn pink. Note to self…

Taste the rind, but don't eat the rind.

Taste the rind, but don’t eat the rind.

It was a very gentle taste. Benign and innocuous almost and T3’s description of “water” wasn’t too far off.

“I don’t taste anything. It’s really mild. I think you should try it…” so he took a bite and as he took his bite, the dragon fruit gave me its bite.

“Oh… It has a little bit of tang … toward the …” I started, as he was chewing on his piece.

“Yeah, it’s when I’m finishing it…” he said, with his mouth turning downward.

“Interestingly enough, that part of your tasting anything is actually called, ‘the finish’; so if you ever hear us talk about wine, juice, coffee, or a new food, sometimes we will say ‘fin–‘…”

His face contorted and he interrupted. “Yeah. That. I do NOT like that tang at the finish.”

Crestfallen, I said, “Ok. Would you like to try it again, now that you know?”

“What part of that tang is pineapple or kiwifruit?” he asked.

“Ummm… both of them…?” I squeaked, smiling with eyebrows raised, vainly hopeful yet acutely aware that any notion of his trying pineapple or kiwifruit as a grown child, not a helpless victim tied down in a high chair was now with the taste of the dragon fruit: toast. I’ve tried for a few years to broaden his fruit options. It happens slowly and usually with his friends or cousins, completely out of my earshot. I sang, “it’s high in fiber and water… I think you’ll come to like it later…”

But at $5.99 a pound, it’s a pricey risk, and I have to learn to be ok with my kid not loving everything I do. I have to be ok with not forcing him to be something he’s simply not.

I didn’t look at the receipt, but those fruit were not light, it’s pretty dense in that scaly red skin.

I don’t know how the older boys will do with it. If tradition holds true and T2 likes it, he’ll eat all of it in one sitting and then spend the rest of the weekend in the bathroom. The placard beside the fruit said that it can be used in quick breads and things of that nature. So maybe I’ll do that.

TIP: I have learned that the action of freezing pineapple removes the tang from the fruit; it’s quite creamy tasting, and my older two love it (but they love pineapple anyway). So if you like pineapple but your kids don’t like the sour aspect of it, slice it up and freeze it by placing the slices on wax paper on top of a cookie sheet or cooking rack and then putting it in your freezer. I usually take those slices and put them in a bag for smoothies.

So that’s it… nothing else to say here about the dragon fruit.

Thank you.

ps – i did remember to get the ham this time.

 

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