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Say no to kiwano

Mackenzie Sain | Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I have finally found the one fruit I don’t like.
A while back, a few friends and I realized none of us could come up with a fruit we disliked – with the possible exception of bananas, which are strangely polarizing. Fruit is just delicious. More recently, we decided to split into teams and have a contest to see who could find the strangest, most unique fruit in South Bend.
Since Indiana is landlocked and is generally a freezing winter wasteland at this time of year, we anticipated needing to drive all over South Bend to seek out exciting produce at various ethnic markets. My teammate and I found persimmons at an Asian grocery, and bought yellow guavas and xoconostle (cactus fruit) at El Paraiso. It was only after we used all that gas, of course, that we realized one could purchase all of these, in addition to other fun fruits, at Meijer. Go figure.
Leaving pomelos and boxes of kumquats for the other team to purchase, we exited Meijer with starfruit, an uglifruit and a kiwano melon. I had tasted persimmons, guavas, cactus fruit and starfruit before, so the last two were new to me.
Uglifruit is a citrus fruit, and is possibly the least appetizing fruit I’ve ever bought. It definitely lives up to its name – it looks like the slightly squashed, tired grapefruit you’d find at the very bottom of the bin. I’m glad we gave it a chance, though, because uglifruit is delicious. If they sold uglifruit juice by the quart like they do orange and grapefruit, I would be all over it.
The same, however, cannot be said for kiwano melon.
Kiwano melon is one of the exotic-looking mainstays of the produce section that everyone always wants to try but never actually does. It’s about the size of a potato, a bright yellow-orange color and is covered in stubby half-inch spikes. The inside, like a cucumber, is filled with edible seeds surrounded by a yellow-green gel.
The kiwano melon was definitely the coolest-looking fruit we bought, and we saved it for last in anticipation of equally awesome flavor. Google informed us most people eat kiwano with salt or sugar; we decided to try it plain first and go from there. After one bite of the slimy seeds and crunchy rind, we all dove for the salt shaker. The interior tasted like an old cucumber and the rind like a tired radish. I like both cucumbers and radishes, but the combination of flavors, along with the gel-like texture of the melon’s interior, is distinctly unappetizing.
So, next time you find yourself in the produce section and are craving something new and different, forgo the spiky orange kiwano and grab a brownish-yellow uglifruit instead. Trust me, you’ll be much happier.