I ate my first sugar-apple (aka custard-apple, buddha fruit, sweetsop) while abroad in Hong Kong, where the alien creature appeared alongside more recognizable produce at the wet markets in Tai Po. Thanks to my fortuitous decision to blog about it, you can read more here. Its sweet fragrance and rich texture make it easy on the palate, and I am especially gratified at gnawing the flesh clean off the seeds and relishing the pristine smoothness on my tongue once it’s been unclothed. There are times when the fruit can be a little overwhelming (in the way a super-ripe banana can be), and it might be one of the last fruits you’d want to pick up on a bloody humid summer day. I haven’t seen one since my return to the New World, but recently sited mention of it in this short clip on seedless fruits. I’m not one to mull over the genetic disruption of ovule development in sugar-apples, but then again, I would not mind if custard-apples of the seedless sort never came about. That would take away much of the pleasure of eating them in the first place; gone would be those tiny triumphs, that visceral satisfaction of a polished seed just before I pop it out of my mouth.
And, just because it’s Friday, I youtube-d “never judge a book by its cover” and present to you the first search result, which encapsulates what that phrase is all about:
Before coming to HK, I’d never seen a Buddha fruit, more commonly known as a ‘custard apple‘.
I was introduced to this fruit a few weeks ago and warily eyed its scaly, grim-looking outer skin. It didn’t help that it felt like I was cupping a rough, honeycombed boob when I held it in the palm of my hand. When ripe, the fruit easily split in half under pressure, revealing an off-white, mushy flesh that smelled sticky-sweet. I also noticed large black seeds, thereby deducing that its inner structure resembled that of a pomegranate: that is, pockets of flesh-covered seeds. Pomegranates are yummy, which gave me some hope, but still.
I half-glared at the soul who dared bring this fruit to my attention as I lifted it to my mouth and gingerly took a bite (here, ‘took’ may be too strong of a word). The flesh was rich, slightly grainy in texture with a creamy, custard-like consistency, and sweet like honey: in short, utterly delicious. Others who tried it did not share my satisfaction and I admit I was surprised by the taste of it at first. I do think, though, that I have a soft spot for earthy foods that make me work for what I swallow.
Also, I’ve since discovered that the best way to eat this fruit is to shove an entire half in one’s mouth (the meat comes off the skin easily) before proceeding to release each seed from its delicious coating of flesh. The seeds can be unceremoniously spit out into a bush or discarded in a more civilized manner, if one is feeling so inclined. The best part is that one then gets to repeat this with the other half.
Discovering new foods I like is happiness.