Regular household grocery shoppers could be forgiven for being confused in the fruit and veggie section of recent times.
I was shocked to find that peeling oranges was now considered an onerous and unnecessary task. In one Bendigo supermarket, you can buy them naked – and wrapped in cling-wrap. Oh, think of the relief at having to just whip off the plastic.
I am told, although I have yet to witness it, that the same service is available for bananas. And don’t we domestic slaves know how sweat-inducing peeling a banana can be.
But the weirdness continues.
Have you really looked around the fruit and veg section lately? Really looked?
Okay, you might think so, but answer me this: what are those plastic-wrapped whitish cone thingoes? They look like plastic fence post finials.
In fact – again I am reliably informed but have yet to test this – they are coconuts, but not as you know them. They are “young” coconuts, harvested before the tough, hairy shell has formed ad then cut by machines into the cone shape. Apparently, the thing to do is drill into the core and drink the internal syrup through a straw.
I can’t imagine they’ll catch on at charity fund raisers.
Gone are the days when you could look cool and capable by having a mere bunch of bok choy peeking out of your trolley. No, you’ll be sniggered at: “Oh look, poor chap is proudly displaying his boy choy. Probably drives a paint-peeled Hyundai Excel.”
No, you now need to have the trolly liberally sprinkled with stuff very few recognise as edible.
Cherlmoya, for example. You’re going to be gob-smacked at this, but ol’ Bushwhacked knows a thing or two about cherlmoya. For example, they used to be called custard apples and my older brother and I used to use them as slug-gun targets.
I am led to believe they are edible, but only by people who want to prove it’s possible.
So are tomatillos, trendy little green, tart tomatoes which your Nana would have given to the chooks.
Sea beans, or samphire, a salty little thing which grows wild on the edge of salt marshes.
And lemons, but not the one your Grandpa used to water in his inimitable way in the backyard. These are Meyer lemons, easy to peel and less bite but more sugary.
White asparagus, starfruit, breadfruit, gal lan (or Chinese broccoli, or even Chinese kale). These are among the things you culinary hipsters will have to master. Warrigal greens, quandongs, sea parsley, finger limes.
And by the way, what the hell is it with kale? It burst out of nowhere a couple of years back and now any leafy green thingummy which once might have been called silver beet, is now kale.
It’s green, wrinkly, goes limp when you cook it – therefore, ipso facto and audio video disco, it’s kale.
There’s an aptly named citrus from Jamaica which is getting a run in Australia now – the Ugli fruit. It looks a bit like a lemon about 12 hours after it was eaten by a pig.
And finally, here’s something to get the salivation buds going off like oral fire hydrants: dandelion greens.
Yes, those things you’ve spent years poisoning in your back lawn are now served raw in salads or braised lightly.
The moment soursob and Cape weed make the cut we’ll let you know.
‘Scuse me, I’ve got pie and chips warming in the oven.