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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Not photogenic

"But it looks like cat poop."

Kopi Luwak, or "civet coffee".
I wasn't even showing my friend the infamous kopi luwak, which is indeed the product of cat poop (those are coffee beans recovered from the droppings of civet cats that eat the coffee berries).

 Instead, I was showing them a fruit that is quite ubiquitous the world around: the tamarind.

A sweet tamarind pod. A particular cultivar from Thailand that is less tart and is eaten as fresh fruit. 
A brown pod with a papery dry skin, the edible part is the sticky brown pulp surrounding the shiny seeds.

Peeled tamarind pod. 

A sweet tangy flavor, it's an essential component of multiple Asian cuisines, from chutney to pad thai. Tamarind figures prominently in worcestershire sauce, but in places from Mexico to Trinidad, tamarind pulp is diluted into a kind of chilled sweetened drink, or mixed with sugar and spices into a kind of candy.

Unlike plants like tomato and potato, that originated in the Americas to transform old world cuisine, the tamarind originates from Africa, and in fact, did the opposite: it infiltrated itself into the cuisines of the Americas. I think it is only the appearance that keeps it in the under the radar of the fragile North American sensibilities.

1 comment:

  1. I could eat my weight in tamarind if you gave me the chance.