Wednesday, 3 April 2013

April Fool!

Huzzah! Yes, that day of year has rolled around again, when tricksters see just how far they can spin a yarn and many of the rest of us roll our eyes and think "When will it be noon so that this nonsense stops?".

But strolling around the Fruit & Vegetable Hall can give you an unnerving sense of April Fool. Even if Michael Mow, Potato Man, the unlikely person doing the pranking.

Because, these days, things aren't what they used to be. Yet sometimes, they are what they used to be, we've just forgotten what to expect. And smell. And taste.

Startled by purple and green cauliflower?

Orange cauliflowers have supposedly 25 times the levels of beta carotene (Vitamin A) as white cauliflower. The purple one gets its hue from anthocyanin, which is the same antioxidant in red wine and red cabbage. If nothing else, these unusually coloured brassicas encourage curiousity and tasting from the disbelieving (children in particular). Serve them simply, raw or lightly steamed with just a hint of butter.

Walking past Damian Pike's stall the other day, I picked up some vibrant orange tomatoes. They were tiny, but the flavour was intense and they were a bright pop of colour in an otherwise ordinary salad. A "taste bomb" indeed.

Been fooled by a fruit recently?

Kiwiberries appeared at Reliable Fruit & Vegies last year and popped up all around the Market this summer. Market shoppers were seen peering at them, these round green baby kiwis in the midst of punnets of blueberries and raspberries. What exactly was going on here? These kiwiberries have a "fuzz-free" skin and are able to be eaten whole, skin and all.

And for other miniature items that can deceive the eye but not the tastebuds, you can't go past the display of birds eye chilies at Lee's Asian Grocery or Pino's Fine Produce. So innocent, so beautiful, so utterly utterly deadly. The unaware may chomp down on one whole, only to find themselves fleeing for a glass of milk or handful of palm sugar. There's a reason why renowned Thai expert David Thompson refers to them as "scuds". Treat them with respect, people.

Running my hands through a box full of fresh green olives down at F & J Fruiterers the other day, I couldn't help thinking it was the perfect camouflage for edibility. Have you tried eating an olive straight from the tree? It is frankly disgusting. But someone, sometime 6000 years ago figured out that you could cure olives, transform them with many changes of water and a touch of salt into something quite delightful.

Photo courtesy of Ed Kwon

And for that most magic of foods in disguise, I can't go past the marrow. Who would think, between those rough hunks of bone lies such a deeply delicious, rich and decadent feast? Long before Fergus Henderson made Roast Marrow with Parsley Salad his signature dish at St John, this was a hidden delight, a cook's feast, something to be eaten with the fingers while the fancier cuts were carried out to the dining room. Nutrient dense and full of the most primal flavour imaginable. Stop by one of our butchers and pick up some broad bones to roast at home. 

Let's face it, you're a fool if you don't.

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