Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Tell me what you think this is.

If you guessed tamarind, you would be right! For the un-edumacated, tamarind fruit is defined by Wikipedia as follows:
The fruit pulp is edible and popular. It is used as a spice in both Asian and Latin American cuisines, and is also an important ingredient in Worcestershire sauce, HP sauce and the Jamaican-produced Pickapeppa sauce. The hard green pulp of a young fruit is very tart and acidic and is most often used as a component of savory dishes. The ripened fruit is sweeter, yet still distinctively sour, and can be used in desserts and sweetened drinks, or as a snack. In Thailand, there is a carefully cultivated sweet variety with little to no tartness grown specifically to be eaten as a fresh fruit.

The bit where it says it's edible can be debated. Apparently, it's been made into a horrific, gut-wrenching candy called the Pulp of Tamarind. It does not sound appealing. How can something like that even be considered food, let alone a treat or candy? I think that somewhere along the line, there was a mistranslation:

In temples, especially in Asian countries, the pulp is used to clean brass shrine furniture, removing dulling and the greenish patina that forms.

Ah, I see. The words "candy" and "furniture polish" must be very similar in these unidentified Asian countries, and that's where the confusion resulted. Pulp of Tamarind is meant to shine your brass, not tickle your tastebuds.

I wonder, though, why anyone even thought that this "fruit" would be good for even tasting in the first place, let alone trying in recipes or manufacturing on a large scale. It looks like turds. That picture, up top there? That's the one that my friend handed to me this morning, as a little gift. I was very nonplussed. Why would she give me fake poo? As a little joke? Was it a subtle dig at my housekeeping skills? Is she going kind of loopy in her old age?

When she told me it was tamarind, and that she was giving them out to everyone at our church, I was slightly mollified. But I had heard of tamarind before, and the pulp is sold at my local grocery store, so I didn't think much of the gift. How can you be truly appreciative of a foodstuff that looks like poo and tastes like burning?

I admit, the picture below of the fruit on a tree doesn't look so bad. But after careful inspection, it started looking a little....phallic. Lovely. Phallic poo fruit.

I'll take a pass on that gastronomic experience, thanks. Any takers?

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