|Eden’s Apples and Other Forbidden Natural Delights|
|Wednesday, 04 December 2013 00:00 | Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry|
It is a banana. It's not a banana. It is a banana. It is not a banana.
Warning to all my fellow raw-fooders: tropical travel with ruin you forever. For after three weeks on the remote Caribbean island of Dominica, only 26 miles long and 15 miles wide, I sit in Lincoln Park, Chicago, trying to convince myself the thick-skinned, seedless, yellow piece of food I just paid $1 for at the coffee shop is indeed a banana.
It's not a banana.
The last my taste buds remember, a banana was a small, often bite-sized fruit, ripe only when fully brown and soft as jelly, erupting with multi-dimensional flavors—sometimes aromatically figish, sometimes undeniably hibiscus. But this... this food I am eating now I think is some kind of artificial syrup pressed into an elongated phallic shape, created in a laboratory to match the taste of Runts candy—America's accepted standard for fruit taste. I am ruined forever.
How can I forget the farmer's market in Roseau (with a population of 10,000, Dominica's biggest village)? I asked to taste a mango, ended up eating the entire thing, and when negotiating price, the vendor charged exactly what the Earth had charged her that morning. This happened repeatedly, this gifting of fruit—handfuls of yellow island "cherries" or bundles of sugar cane pushed into my hands. Tell me now, with flavor, freshness and generosity like this, what health-food salad bar can compare?
And what about the roadsides, practically polluted with jelly coconuts? So available are these bowling-ball-sized treats, the locals commonly carry machetes for impromptu hydration breaks. So abundant are these delicious rocks in the sky, the Pirates of the Caribbean ll & lll movie producers shooting here hired an official coconut cutter to protect the unaware noggins of cast and crew. And so fresh and clean was the green coconut's tonic water, I fear that I may never be able to stomach the over-sweet and pesticide-dipped Thai atrocity again.
If that weren't enough, this equatorial paradise spoiled my palate with an array of exotic new fruits, picked right from the tree myself. Count on two hands: the consciousness-altering fresh cacao pod, the feathery vanilla-like cass pod meat, the cinnamon/date-flavored chapotilla, the similar-textured, brown, golf-ball-sized tambrine fruit, and the luscious mango/pumpkin-flavored mame apple (known to the locals also as "apricot"). But even the more common fruit fare in the States is reduced to factory flavors when compared to Dominica's in-season watermelon and powerful pineapple.
Still, by far, nothing lifted the proverbial produce veil from my eyes nor had a deeper affect on my total being than one oddly shaped, smallish, spiked, iguana-green fruit blob; when eaten, soft as a mother's breast, pulp the color of dawn...with a texture stringy and almost transparent and as lightly sweetened as heaven's iced tea. These statements might not be FDA evaluated, nor is the potency of said effects legally regulated, but my personal research confirms in repeated double-blind studies that this strange fruit, called soursop, is officially a dangerous aphrodisiac, as well.
How can one go back to limp raspberries in a plastic container after this?
So I beg you, raw-fooders and produce-lovers alike, give up your gardens, abandon the farmer's markets and stay as far away from the southern Caribbean as possible. Leave the life of wandering and compulsive perpetual travel to those of us who have already bitten Eden's apple, dooming ourselves to a destiny of dining dissatisfaction and fatal fruit snobbery.
So until I can return to the volcanic coasts of some tropical jungle, eating precisely the way climate, season and location dictate, I shall somehow try to relish a bag of baby carrots. But as far as bananas go, this spirit is unbroken, and Dole—and their "organic line"—can kiss my Dominican pawpaw!
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