The Tameness of Dragon Fruit

Here’s yet another example of how you could have the lives of a cat and still never reach the end of the food world: I just bought and tasted my first dragon fruit. I’ve passed them by countless times because they both look forbidding and seem overpriced. But today they were a buck a pound in Chinatown, and I got two for all of 75 cents. Then I sat through an online slide show explaining how to tackle them (hint: like an avocado, but taking care to remove all the inedible skin). And now I know they’re as much about texture as taste. The teeny black seeds are good and crunchy and the juicy flesh is almost custardy. The flavor, though, is more like a cucumber than a fruit. (My consort, when I gave him a few chunks on a spoon, swallowed and then asked: “Is that a clean spoon?” So yes, the flavor is also a bit earthy.) Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya in Southeast Asia, is a member of the cactus family. But it’s both more approachable and easier to deal with than the prickly pears I grew up with in Arizona. Apparently it’s becoming a trendy ingredient, too. Bob remembered what had escaped my cranial sieve: We’d tried it in a soda in Philadelphia last year. Now I realize what we mostly tasted was sugar.

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