If you’ve noticed the recent lack of food posts around here, don’t fret! I was off enjoying some eating of my own in tropical Hawaii. I can’t wait to share some of the food treasures I found and other experiences I gathered up while I was away. First things first. LYCHEES! My favorite fruit. Lychees are round fruits covered in a pink, pointyish skin that you peel off to reveal an opal-white, juicy, fleshy fruit. The flesh tastes like a cross between grapes, white wine, and cool refreshment on a hot day. There is also a large, glossy, brown pit inside of the lychee that you’re not supposed to eat.
David and I were driving along Oahu’s North Shore when I saw the lychee sign. We turned immediately around and bought a $5 bag of lychees from a roadside man keeping cool in his car while the lychees waited for me on a plastic table. I was overjoyed. They’re my first lychees of the season, usually purchased at Trader Joe’s (in good years), Whole Foods, or the Farmers’ Market back home. These were a little tart, but so refreshing to eat on the beach and beside the pool. I’ll take lychees over a pina colada any day.
Naturually, I had my #1 favorite lychee experience in Paris. My equally lychee-obsessed friend and I bought a huge box of them from an outdoor market, we went to the park, and we ate them all. They were huge and juicy, and we were sticky from finger tips to elbows. I washed my arms off in a fountain, and then I found an American quarter. Good day!
Second things second. MANGOSTEEN! These were the first fresh mangosteen I’ve ever tried. I have only had them freeze dried before from Trader Joe’s, and they’re a great snack. But in Hawaii, fresh mangosteen abound. They were growing on the trees at our hotel but weren’t ripe for picking, and my future mother in law, Cindy, bought these ready-to-eat ones at a Hawaiian farmers’ market.
We all gathered around to cut into one. Magosteens have fairly thick skin, and you have to score the skin around the outside and then twist the top half of the skin off to reach the fruit on the inside.
Once you’ve broken in, you’ll find perfectly white segments of fruit. The number of segments inside of the mangosteen corresponds to the number of leaves on the bottom of the outside of the fruit. The larger segments have biggish, black seeds in them. When I eat dried mangosteen, the seeds are hard, but in the fresh ones, I ate the seeds without knowing it. The fruit is sweet and juicy, also grapelike in flavor, but it is very fleshy. It takes longer than you’d expect to chew. I can only hope to find fresh mangosteen again one day.
Third things third. PINEAPPLE. I was very excited to try pineapple straight from Hawaii, but I didn’t think it was particularly special. I guess I’ve been lucky enough to get good pineapples right at home. What was remarkable, however, was seeing how pineapples grow! I took these pictures at the Dole Pineapple Plantation, where they have a bunch of different types growing. Here is a pink one!
Here are pineapples shaped like they came from a Dr. Seuss book.
And here is a pretty view of the plantation. I happened to stumble across some pineapple growing beside the U.S.S. Missouri battleship on an unrelated tour earlier in the week. Our tour guide told me that you can twist the green top right off of any pineapple and plant it. After 2 years, she said that a new pineapple will begin to grow and that the plant will continue producing 1 pineapple per year for about 6 years. After that time, she said the pineapples start getting too small. New mission: Plant a pineapple. I’ve already threatened my mom with a pineapple plant as a gift, but I think I’d like one for myself too!