What the fruit is that?

By Tyler Brooks, staff writer 

Apples, oranges, bananas, and grapes are all fruits that can be seen and enjoyed worldwide. You probably have at least one kind at home. But there are thousands of types of fruits, not just a handful of them. There are fruits that your mind cannot even imagine. When someone says “weird fruit,” names like kiwifruit, dragonfruit, and mango come to mind. But who knows what a sapote, a kiwano, or a chôm chôm is? That’s rhetorical because none of you know those.

Good news to all chocoholics out there: there is a way to eat chocolate pudding with low caloric intake and high levels of essential vitamins and minerals. To accomplish this seemingly impossible task, one must simply turn toward the black sapote, also known as the chocolate pudding fruit or as Diaspyros nigra. The 2-4 inch Central American native is commercially grown in Australia, Florida, and the Philippines. The ripe season is in December, and the fruit can currently only be obtained in the United States through mail-orders from Florida during ripe season.

A kiwano melon, Cucumis metuliferus, is otherworldly, inward and out. It is a yellow spiked melon, but its inside is a booger-green watery fluid with floating seeds. The melon is used as a source of water in its native Africa, and when it is ready to spread its seeds, it simply explodes. Kiwanos can be physically bought in Lancaster or shipped from Erie or from Shoprite.

Another odd fruit from Lancaster and Shoprite is the chôm chôm, aka the rambutan or Nephelium lappaceum, and it is essentially a hairy strawberry in appearance. But once the hairy chôm chôm is peeled, it looks like clear chapstick and tastes vaguely like grapes. It has a diverse variety of nutrients, all in modest amounts, making it like a hairy vitamin supplement.

While apples and grapes are delicious and good for you, other fruits don’t get the love they deserve. They can be more nutritious and delicious than any fruit you’ve ever heard of. Unfamiliarity should not equal unappetizing in our minds, but rather a new fruitful path to take and enjoy. Next time you visit a market, check out the exotic fruits and try something new and judge for yourself the role these fruits should play within your life.

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