We decided that a field trip was in order, so, on Martha’s suggestion, we visited Maria’s. The challenge was to find the weirdest looking vegetables, take them home and cook them.
It was overwhelming! One man, from India was amazed to find gangura. He said his wife cooks it in a chutney, and that he had not seen it outside of India. Actually, he said, even North Indians don’t know about it.
The bittermelon was, by far, one of the weirdest. An Indian lady told B that it was a very healthy gourd and to cook it up with tumeric, chili powder and brown sugar (we went on and added twice as much spice as the recipe called for, lots of brown sugar, and even hummus, because one of the recipes we found said you could use chickpeas in it, but, alas, to no avail!)
I couldn’t get over the ugliness of the yampi. It’s a Jamaican yam.
Martha decided, since B and I were looking at vegetables, she’d pick a fruit, and that’s how we came by the mamey.
We also bought some fennel because B said she wanted some (good choice!).
Once B and I got these back to the kitchen, we attacked the bittermelon. We watched videos and looked up recipes. In the end, we put everything we could think of in the pot, because no matter what we did, it tasted horrible.
B kept telling me to taste it while it was cooking. Finally, I wised up, and told her I had done my share of tasting, it was her turn…
Just go read about it, though. It will cure anything!
The yampi — we could find very little about it. We did read that it smelled really bad while it was cooking. After the bittermellon, it took a lot of courage to attack the ugly thing. However, it did not smell, and it tasted just like potatoes, we mashed them. They might be a little more gluey in texture, but pretty darn close in taste. We’d like to know if they are better for you than potatoes, but that’s still a mystery.
The fennel… Oh, joy! That was delicious. You cut it up (we tried both ways, across and long ways — didn’t matter), coated it with olive oil and a couple sprinkles of balsamic vinegar, and roasted it at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
The mamey… It’s breathtakingly beautiful — a deep orange red with a shiny black pit. It’s very sweet and has a kind of mushy texture… I ended up using a portion of it today to make mamey custard, and that was an experience… I don’t have a clue how to caramelize sugar, tried twice, failed both times, and the custard part ended up kind of bready. Wasn’t bad, but certainly not what I expected.
We had a very fun time on this field trip. We caused traffic jams at Maria’s because we were busy taking photos and asking questions, but both staff and customers put up with us.
Martha had to work, so B and i cooked. We called Martha when we were ten minutes from sitting down at the table to eat…
All of us, without exception, decided that we’d have to be awfully sick before we ate any more bittermelon. One of the diseases it’s supposed to be good for is diabetes, but, since you have to load the sugar on it, that’s hard to believe.
The yampi was not bad. If it’s actually healthier than potatoes, it could be a good substitute. The jury is still out on that.
We all loved the fennel, but of course, fennel is not a weird veggie at all. When you roast it, it caramelizes — delicious!
And the mamey custard was a lot of work… I can’t even describe how I feel about it. I’m going to have to play with that one some more.