We all know our apples, bananas and pears, right? I came to Puglia thinking that my fruit and vegetable knowledge was pretty on point, but it seems I was wrong. The Italians around me have been attempting to educate me by plying me with seasonal produce. Here are some new fruits that I’ve discovered while living in a countryside villa in the South of Italy:
It took me ages to figure out what a ‘caco’ was, since apparently persimmons come in different varieties. I discovered the soft kind in early October when I first arrived in Puglia. I’m not a fussy eater but I must admit that I can really only handle a small amount of this fruit: its sugary flavour quickly gets too sickly for me and the texture can accurately be described as gloop. Nonetheless, it was good to finally try a fruit that I’d previously only heard of in the Sims Playstation game (Sims have eclectic taste in food it seems).
This is a fruit that I’d never even heard of before: nespole translates as loquat or medlar. They look a bit like orange plums, like cousins of an apricot. The taste is sweet but also slightly sharp at the end. They’re quite fun to eat as well, by chopping off the end, you can pop out the two flat brown stones and eat it whole.
The mulberry is currently in season, with the tree in the garden shedding loads of little white fruits looking somewhat like elongated raspberries. Another fabled and untasted fruit in my mind, I was told that the mulberry only grows in places like Southern Italy and Uzbekistan (?). The tree apparently also hosts the cocoon of the silk worm: the whole process was explained to me over lunch one day. My host family often engage in the argument of whether the tree is supposed to bear white or purple berries: both colours taste lovely, and can be added to my list of “fruits that double as sweets”. This also includes strawberries, raspberries, grapes and cherries.
Down here, getting your 5 a day is not a chore, its yet another cultural experience. Let me remind you about turnip tops.