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Lick the Produce Section: Woman with mango

Time keeps ticking, I keep licking the produce section, and man are my taste buds sore. It’s time once again for me to report on the new fruits and vegetables I have tried to eat with varying levels of success.

Mango

When I think of mangoes, I think of the Gauguin painting Woman with mango. Typing that title makes it sound like another recipe from the cannibal’s cookbook. I opted to eat the mango raw. However, if I had taken a closer look at Gauguin’s painting I would have realized I should have waited until it turned red to do so. Instead, I got out my big knife and tried hacking into a green mango. I got about an inch into it and felt like I’d gotten my workout for the day. I checked the wikipedia article on mangoes and realized my mistake, but by that time it was too late. If I left my mutilated mango to ripen on the counter it would just have gotten moldy. I finished cutting out a wedge anyway, bit into it and it was about as bad as you’d think unripened fruit would be. I threw it out for the trash flies to feast on and bought another mango a couple weeks later.

This time I waited for it to turn red and soft and bit right into it. That was mistake number two. If I had finished reading that wikipedia article I would have discovered that you’re not supposed to eat the skin. It’s like biting right into an orange or chewing on watermelon rind. In fact, there is a fancy schmancy way you are supposed to cut a mango to get out all the good, fleshy orange stuff. After all those mishaps, I finally ate the damn mango already. It was tart, somewhat lemony or limey, but sweeter. I’d certainly eat one again, now that I now how to do it properly.

I checked Eat Fresh, Stay Healthy, a book about fruits and veggies that some kind reader suggested (thank you kind reader!), which also has the fugliest cover of any book I have ever seen ever in all my life, and it said mangoes are the “number-one consumed fruit in the world.” They just don’t show up in the US that much due to various boring importation reasons I won’t get into. I had no idea they were so popular, especially considering how hard it was for me to eat one. Go figure.

Kiwi

I have had kiwi fruit before, but I had never bought one in my adult life because it was brown and fuzzy. Kiwi skin reminds me of shag carpeting and I’ve never had a desire to chomp on the carpet. Avoiding kiwi fruits was stupid though because, yum, they are delicious! After my experience with the mango I looked up information on the kiwi to be sure it was okay to just bite into it like an apple. Usually kiwi is served sliced up, but that would mean I’d have to clean my knife afterwards and I am always looking for ways to cut down on dirty dishes. Kiwi is now one of my favorite fruits and I’m definitely going to put it into high rotation in my lunch bag, weird fuzzy skin be damned.

Purple Cauliflower

When I saw the purple cauliflower and orange cauliflower heads in the produce section, I thought they had set it in water with purple food coloring. In grade school we did the same thing with white carnations to color their petals with streaks of purple. I didn’t know why anyone would turn cauliflower purple or orange, but the oddness appealed to me and I needed a new vegetable to try, so I grabbed the purple head because I thought purple was a slightly weirder color than orange.

When I researched my purchase, I discovered that the coloring was natural. “The purple color is caused by the presence of the antioxidant group anthocyanin, which can also be found in red cabbage and red wine.” I roasted this in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper like I usually cook cauliflower and it tasted just like normal cauliflower. Maybe true taste connoisseurs would catch slight variances in flavor, but if you’d blindfolded me I doubt I would have been able to tell what color the cauliflower was. While the purple coloring was fun, I think I’ll stick to the white stuff for now. If I stick it in a pool of food coloring I bet I can turn it any color I want to.

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47 Comments

Olivia • August 10, 2007 at 9:00 am

I recently discovered mango myself, and wondered why the heck I never bought them before. If you like the flovor combo of sweet and spicy, here’s a simple way to prepare mango. Combine a couple spashes of lime juice with a dash or two of cayenne pepper. Then, toss in chopped mango. Yummy!

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Eve • August 10, 2007 at 9:13 am

Until last year I held this belief that I hated kiwis even though I’m pretty sure I had never even had one before. Anyway I started buying them and I love them now. Golden kiwis are good too.

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Dyan • August 10, 2007 at 9:32 am

Check out one of my favorite sites, chow.com.

They have great information and recipes and some pretty hilarious articles (just like this one!)

The kiwis are much better without the skin, it’s too gritty for me!

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Charity • August 10, 2007 at 9:35 am

Whole Foods (and probably other stores) have bags of frozen mango chunks in their freezer section. Excellent for making smoothies! They make a very lush-feeling smoothie with practically 0 fat. :)

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Erica • August 10, 2007 at 9:55 am

I like to eat my kiwis with the skin, but when I wash them, I hold the kiwi under the tap and rub a paring knife over the hairiest parts (usually just around the ends) to shave off the worst of the hair.

Kiwi is also pretty ace in yogurt.

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AKS • August 10, 2007 at 10:18 am

To PastaQueen and Olivia, green unripened mangoes are great to eat with lime juice, salt, and chilli powder or cayenne pepper.

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KCRanch • August 10, 2007 at 10:24 am

Can’t quite get into a mango but it is a flavor thing for me. Kiwi’s are the bomb – my kiddos crave, love, and steal these from their poor mama!

We enjoy making a game of trying new things from the produce section too.

Recently we discovered plumcots (cross between apricot and plum) they are yummy! Then we also discovered a mango nectarine. It is a bit smaller than a nectarine, with yellowish color and scent of a mango. The taste is a nectarine with a subtle hint of mango undertones. I can handle mango in this dosage – very yummy. We are in Michigan and found these at our local Meijer – bet you can find them where you are too.

Happy produce licking!

P.S. we even tried roasted parsnip in our other roasted veggie combo based on a previous post you had – Very delish. Thanks for the idea.

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dg • August 10, 2007 at 10:32 am

Great stuff :) Tis the problem with mangoes, they’re either really amazing or meh, depending on how far they had to travel!

My mother used to eat kiwis whole, carpet and all! It was horrifying to watch.

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Jill • August 10, 2007 at 10:41 am

I love kiwi, too!

I once visited a kiwi plantation in South Carolina. It was more interesting than you might think — and like all produce, the kiwi I bought straight off the vine were SOOOOO much better than what we buy at the grocery store (and much less hairy).

You must check out golden kiwi if you ever see one in the store. The flesh is a beautiful golden color instead of green and they hardly have any hairy stubble.

Happy produce chomping!

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Brittany • August 10, 2007 at 11:11 am

Trader Joe’s often has fresh, pre-cut mango in their produce section. :)

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Michelle • August 10, 2007 at 11:38 am

Indian mangoes are supposed to be simply divine. They were forbidden in the US until just recently but I’ve yet to find one in any store, including Whole Foods. So if you could find one it might be worth another try.

See Anil’s writings on Indian mangoes: http://www.dashes.com/anil/2007/06/indian-mango-alert-level-orangishgreen.html

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Laura • August 10, 2007 at 11:55 am

Wait, you ate the kiwi skin, carpet fuzz and all? Ick! I’ve heard of people doing this before but I just can’t wrap my mind around why anyone would find this appetizing. Although in your case it sounds like more of a practical thing… eating fuzz = less dishes to wash… Still though, I couldn’t do it!

I’ve never gotten into the mango flavour myself, but I LOVE papayas! You should try those next if you haven’t already. FYI if you do – don’t eat the skin or the brown seeds in the middle! Cut ‘em open, scoop out the seeds and eat the yummy flesh.

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Moderndayhermit • August 10, 2007 at 12:13 pm

There are a lot of wonderful Indian dishes that highlight green mango, from curries to chutnies. Yum!

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Miss Music • August 10, 2007 at 12:26 pm

My son eats kiwi by slicing them in half and scooping the insides out with a spoon. Yes, this dirties two utensils, but it sure is easier than the way I prepare them, peeling and slicing. I can’t imagine eating the skin. Ugh!!!

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elasticwaist • August 10, 2007 at 12:30 pm

WHOA! Purple cauliflower! That is coooool.

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Veggie Eater • August 10, 2007 at 12:48 pm

Cut a ripe mango in half, being careful to run the knife alongside the broad, flat seed. Then score each half with cross cuts. Using a spoon, you can then simply scrape out the pieces, much like you can do with an avocado. Chopped mango, combined with a little red onion, some japapeno, chopped tomato, fresh lime juice and sometimes, a bit of chopped cilantro, makes a refreshing and wonderful salsa that’s great on fish and chicken. It’s also great right out of the bowl with a spoon!

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bitchwhoblogs • August 10, 2007 at 12:55 pm

I actually bought a mango cutter…I love the mango.. I love it with spicey stuff and just plain..

And BTW – grilled mango – super yummy. I also started grilling up my peaches and nectarines… its like eating an amazing dessert!!!

I am also a huge fan of the cauliflower… I roast the orange ones and use the yummy cauli instead of pasta for a super calorie friendly version of mac and cheese…. I also just read an amazing recipe for roast cauli in the Chez Panisse Veggie cookbook — my version will involve whole wheat penne, fresh herbs, roasted cauli, toasted walnuts (just a few) and fat free feta….

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Jenny • August 10, 2007 at 1:33 pm

Oh, if someone could put all of the vegetables I need into a pill I would take it. This post is inspiring me to take a visit down an aisle I rarely visit…produce. Thanks for the pictures, now I’ll know what I’m looking for.

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Theresa • August 10, 2007 at 1:45 pm

I had no idea that people actually eat the skins of Kiwi. I couldn’t do it. Too fuzzy for me. I peel the skins off before I eat them. They are such a yummy fruit though. I need to buy some!

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Patty • August 10, 2007 at 2:08 pm

I love mangos and like paypaya and the other island fruit! Kiwis rock too. I need to be better about eating more veggies than just my usual. I will this weekend, I’ll go for zucchini and some portabello mushrooms or something. I need to expand from my usual salads.

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Helen • August 10, 2007 at 2:22 pm

I eat kiwis skin and all with absolutely no problem. When you wash them you can give them a bit of a scrub to get the hairiest bits off.

I grew up in northern Australia, so mangoes were just a staple. They were so unlike the things I see in the supermarket though, there is simply no comparison. We had mango and pawpaw trees in the back yard. When the season was in full swing my mum would slice the mango and sprinkle the slices with lemon juice and a little sugar and freeze them. Semi frozen mango is a taste sensation.

One other thing you need to have a go at, if you ever see them, are passionfruit. They are purplish and wrinkly (when ripe) and the inside seeds and juice are ambrosial, and fantastic used in combination with other tropicals like pineapple kiwi, mango etc.

Have you seen the purple congo potatoes? I thought I was going to have Elvis purple mash when I forked over my cash for them. Good taste, but the flesh wasn’t purple. Oh well.

Congrats on your further exploration of the produce section though. It’s very exciting to discover stuff like that.

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Lyn • August 10, 2007 at 3:18 pm

I used to think I hated mangoes and they tasted like pine trees. Then I bought one that was really ripe. My key is to buy one that is very soft and even has a small flat spot where it sat on the shelf (shows its softness). They are great plain but I make mango smoothies all the time: one whole mango, pitted/peeled and sliced, into the blender with a half cup of fat free yogurt (plai or vanilla) and a bit of juice (orange is good) and 4 or 5 ice cubes. Blend up, tastes like Indian Lassi and very healthy breakfast! Add frozen blueberries if you want. Yum!

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Olivia • August 10, 2007 at 3:23 pm

AKS – I’ve only eaten ripe mango with lime juice and cayenne. Unripened is not sweet enough for my taste.

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Heather • August 10, 2007 at 3:28 pm

1. To me, mangoes taste like a mix of ginger root and pineapple.

2. Mmm, kiwi.

3. You have added a food I have never eaten before. I’m not sure I’ve even SEEN the purple about.

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Kini • August 10, 2007 at 5:22 pm

What’s stranger is the GREEN cauliflower! My youngest daughter will only eat it if its purple, my hubby only wants white, my eldest daughter doesn’t care, loves them all!

Kiwi are yummy, though I hate the way they feel while you peel them.

Mangoes are a fave here, but for some reason THESE bring fruit flies into the house more than any other thing we every get. (this is why I wash everything as soon as it enters the house).

Love your blog! :)

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emily • August 10, 2007 at 7:30 pm

Lick the Produce entries are fun to read :)

Veggie suggestions that you may not have tried:

Jicama (sweet and delicious, you may have written about this)

Tomatillos

Kohlrabi – SO delicious, eat it raw! You might find it at your regular market, or at an asian market.

Purple carrots! naturally purple. But they do taste like regular carrots, I think.

bok choi is SO good raw, in salads. you’ve probably had it cooked in chinese dishes, but have you had it raw?

also, fruitwise, i’ve been eating many, many different varieties of plums and pluots at the farmer’s market – purple ones and yellow ones and red ones, white fleshed, yellow fleshed, red fleshed, sweet, tart, mushy, firm. . . i’m partial to santa rosa plums and flavor king pluots. highly suggested!

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kalmia • August 10, 2007 at 7:45 pm

I cut mangos just as described in your link, except I don’t scrape the scored cubes into a bowl. I lean over the sink, invert the concave half to make it convex so the lovely mango cubes are sticking up, and then I begin feasting, eating the cubes right off the inverted skin. During the process, sweet spicy mango juice tends to dribble down my arms and drip from my elbows. Inbetween mouthfuls, little animal-like sounds of pleasure have been known to escape me. After I’m finished the two divine mango halves, I then start on the seed. First I peel off the skin, and then I use my teeth to help scrape off every last bit of juicy pulp from the seed. With regret, I finally deposit the denuded hairy seed and mango skins into my compost bucket. Then I go floss my teeth. In my experience, it’s rare to know the utter sense of fulfillment a mango brings.

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lee • August 10, 2007 at 8:59 pm

i totally get the cannibalism vibe. i used to think the same thing about the frugal gourmet: “the frugal gourmet cooks his immigrant ancestor’s” because time warner would always cut it off before adding the work “recipes” at the end of the info screen. tee hee!

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MizAngie • August 10, 2007 at 9:37 pm

Kiwi. We always called ‘em “monkey’s nuts” because, well, they look like a monkey’s testicles. Ha! I have to peel ‘em. I think I could eat kiwi skin easier than I could eat peach skin, though. That fuzz gives me chills for days. I just can’t get it brushed off my teeth and tongue. Yech. I love peaches, though. Mangoes are my fave fruit. We used to slice them and then freeze ‘em. We called that a Mexican popsicle. Mmm. They’re also great with chopped onion, tomato, cilantro, jalapeno in mango salsa. Delicious with chicken or pork. Grapes are awesome frozen in the summertime. Tiny little popsicles! You continue to be an inspiration…

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bazu • August 10, 2007 at 11:36 pm

Hey PQ,

I loved this post, because I love mangoes!

One thing though, mangoes won’t change color no matter how long they sit. Once picked, that’s their color. Also, their color doesn’t determine ripeness- a green mango may be riper than a red one. When you’re choosing a mango, try smelling it- it should have a sweet smell. Better yet, if you like them really soft and sweet, try the honey mangoes- the smaller, yellow mangoes. These do literally taste like honey… mmmmmmm.

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EAC • August 11, 2007 at 12:36 am

My kiwifruit method: I slice it in half and eat it with a spoon, as if I was eating a soft-boiled egg in the shell!

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mrs darling • August 11, 2007 at 2:17 am

One of the best salads I ever had was at an authentic Mexican restaurant and it was made of mangos, avocados and fresh grated coconut. That was it except for the dressing which I have no idea how to make. But the salad was divine!

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UrbanChk • August 11, 2007 at 10:22 am

Mango…so good. Unfortunately, we don’t get really good ones here in the US unless you’re growing your own in Florida.

Even the best mango you have in the US doesn’t compare to a mediocre mango from West Africa, the islands or India.

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chosha • August 11, 2007 at 1:31 pm

I love mangoes. They are fun to eat in water – pool, ocean, bath – because then it doesn’t matter how messy and sticky you get.

I’ve never seen a purple or orange cauli. Would be fun to get all three colours (and maybe add broccoli) for a dinner party.

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vivi • August 11, 2007 at 4:25 pm

Hello Jeanette! I discovered your blog recently.. and I read it all in two days!. Fascinating. Congratulations!

From my mediterranean point of view (I’m spanish) I have always known which foods are “healthy” and which ones aren’t (another story would be wether I ate according to my grandmother’s cookbook). Now I am living in Germany, far away from my usual food, my usual olive oil, fish, fruits, vegetables… and I put on a lot of weight (not that I eat very healthy when in Spain, but it seems to me the only thing they eat here is pork and bread… and beer!). Sniff…

My mediterranean little devil on my left shoulder says: Mangos aren’t very “healthy” because nearly all tropical fruits have a lot of fat. I eat kiwis as yoghourts, slicing them in two and then with a spoon. And I love them!!!! (the mediterranean angel says: and a wonderful source of vitamin C!).

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Diana • August 11, 2007 at 5:15 pm

I have been a lurker for so long. I Love your writing. I didn’t even know I could leave a comment unless I had a blog or URL. Keep up the good work and I’ll be reading for sure. You sound like a really pretty and fun girl. I say girl because I’m 56 so I guess I’m pretty old to someone your age.

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Diana • August 11, 2007 at 5:17 pm

I have been a lurker for so long. I Love your writing. I didn’t even know I could leave a comment unless I had a blog or URL. Keep up the good work and I’ll be reading for sure. You sound like a really pretty and fun girl. I say girl because I’m 56 so I guess I’m pretty old to someone your age.

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Lyn :) • August 11, 2007 at 6:12 pm

I’ve been eating mangoes all week… they are beautiful in a blender with natural yoghurt and a few boysenberries … yum!!!

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Angel • August 11, 2007 at 10:58 pm

Mangos are soooooo good! Ditto for Kiwi (here’s a weird factoid–people w/ latex allergies shouldn’t eat them).

I haven’t seen the purple cauliflower, but have tried the orange, it was very good, maybe a bit sweeter? Not in a sugary way though.

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kathy • August 12, 2007 at 12:09 am

Down here in Mexico we eat mangoes like the one you pictures like a popsicle. They are impaled on a stick and cut like a blossoming flower. Squeeze a limon (i guess that’s a lime) and some chile on it and it’s a great snack. My favorites are the ataulfo’s (sp?); they are all yellow and melt in your mouth like butter. Simply amazing. April is when the mangoes are ripe around the country and we wallow in mangoes all summer long.

Do you get mamey up there? It looks like a brown avocado. Put them in shakes; yummy! Also, we get yellow kiwi (dorado). They are really good.

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jen • August 12, 2007 at 8:13 am

I don’t like the fuzzy kiwi skin, so for me the easiest way to eat it is to slice it in half and then scoop the fruit out with a spoon. It looks pretty in a fruit salad, too.

I think that it’s cool how you’re trying all these different veggies and fruits. I’ve been trying to do this ever since I started watching Chef Kathleen’s old show on the Food network. I actually found out I like things like fennel and asparagus. I don’t like cauliflower at all. And mangoes are a little sweet and bland for my taste. Still, every now and then I find a winner.

Since you’re Italian like me, do you like pomegranate? You should watch for them at Christmastime. They’re one of my favorites. We grew up taking them to school and getting the “Eeewww,” response from our classmates.

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anji • August 12, 2007 at 6:22 pm

I second the cut the kiwi in half like an egg, and scoop out with a spoon! I couldn’t handle eating the kiwi skin… just not my thing! :D Never even knew people could do that!

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K • August 12, 2007 at 6:35 pm

I like mango, but I’m deadly allergic to kiwi. One of those lesser-known allergens.

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Mymsie • August 12, 2007 at 10:42 pm

Damn – we should’ve chatted before your mango experiment because I made the exact same mistakes. Dear God, I will never forget the taste and texture of mango skin. *shudder* After tasting the actual fruit (when it was ripe) I found I’m not a big fan. It’s OK in stuff but I would never pick it.

Kiwi is OK as long as all the hairy skin is gone.

Purple Cauliflower is a good band name.

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AKS • August 13, 2007 at 1:45 pm

Michelle – have you tried the Indian mangoes? They recently became available, or so I’ve read in the paper, but I cannot find them near my house.

Kini – I believe green cauliflower is marketed as “broccoflower.”

kathy – we don’t get mameys in the states (or I haven’t seen them around much), but we do get the cherimoya (or guanabana).

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coraspartan • August 16, 2007 at 8:28 am

PQ, I want to thank you for these entries. They teach me about fruits/veggies I haven’t tried and they inspire me to try them myself.

I also wanted to say thank you to your commenters for teaching me a new way to eat kiwi! I rarely buy it because I’m too lazy to peel it and then slice it. But I bought one last night to try your commenters’ suggestions of cutting it in half and eating it with a spoon. I can’t wait to try it!

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Julia • December 2, 2007 at 8:34 pm

I haven’t had a passion fruit (what we call granidilla) in years and years, never seen it in the US.

I am going to Harry’s farmers market tomorrow to see if they have any passionfruit or/and litchi’s.

Love kiwi and mango.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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