Apples to Oranges

Food is an integral part of every living thing’s existence. We humans, given our great intelligence, have taken the ol’ hunt/gather/farm approach to greater and greater heights. Not only have we crafted tools beyond a pointed stick to spear our wooly mammoth dinner; we’ve gone on to mix that mammoth meat with grassland herbs, treetop seeds, and a pinch of some black powder Grog produced with his Smashy Rock.

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What always gets me is wondering who first decided to make a cake. I know! I’ll crack open this white orb what fell from this flapping animal without much sense. Ah, yes! something yellow and goopy! Now, I’ll try mooshing that with this rock-smashed white stuff I got from the tan plants near Poo Mound. Excellent! Hmmm… what about some mammoth fat? Ooh! And, now, bake for 350ยบ F in these flat rocks that I’ve suddenly decided to call an “oven…”

I’m getting off-topic, though. What I’m really interested in talking about today are fruits and vegetables. Those most common to we European-descent Americans surrounded by a few tropical areas include: apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, berries, apricots, peaches, squashes, carrots, corn (oh, my goodness! so much corn!), lettuce, beans, peas, and potatoes. With the exception of the oranges, I can grow any of those in my backyard. I find them in the grocery store year-round.

These fruits and veggies are so common and prevalent that they slip into phrases (“that’s like comparing apples to oranges”). They are the staple of tradition (“as American as apple pie”). They even show up in nursery rhymes (“Peter, Peter, Pumpkin-Eater”).

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Not until I watched a Curious George television cartoon with my son did it occur to me that life was not a piece of fruitcake. The episode responsible for this enlightenment centered around George the monkey (yes, yes; he’s actually an ape) meeting new neighbors from an Asian country. They’d opened a restaurant and store, and introduced George and his yellow-hatted friend to a variety of new dishes made from fruits the two had never seen before.

I stole this picture from Carol, who is AMAZING.

Forget George; I’d never seen them before.

Shortly before that point, I had learned that everything is not America where crops are concerned. Barbara Kingsolver snuck that fact in to her The Poisonwood Bible, when Nathan Price tries to cultivate the seeds they brought from home in the African Congo. Spoiler alert: they all fail because the local pollinators don’t know what to do with a squash plant.

I’m intrigued. What is a fruit or vegetable that you can grow near you, that I do not have here in the western part of America? What does it taste like? Further, what is one I have or that you’ve heard I have, that you wonder about?

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How do you like them apples?

—————-

All right. I’m finished with the puns and idioms. Go ahead and check out what I wrote:

Thursday, February 18: Asked everyone about common meals where they live.

Saturday, February 20: “A Hallmark Love Poem,” as an example of what you brilliance you can write for the A Mused Poetry Contest.

Monday, February 22: Shared a quote by Bill Bullard.

Tuesday, February 23: Wrote a little something something for Deb’s 42 Words prompt: Mystery.

I’ve given up on it, but there’s some old stuff on my motherhood site.

I’ll be publishing my first-ever guest post at Carrot Ranch on Monday, March 1! It’s about writing poetry, so go over there even if you hate poetry. You’re welcome.

ยฉ2021 Chelsea Owens

44 thoughts on “Apples to Oranges

      1. The Nopal, or Prickly Pear cactus, bears a red or green elongated cylindrical fruit that can be peeled and eaten. A good source of antioxidants. The pads can also be eaten. Just be careful of thorns and glochids. Don’t you have those there? I would have thought you did.

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  1. Hi, Chel. At first glance I thought the Hand of Buddha was one of the weird-shaped lemons that Eurekas sometimes produce. https://harmonyinthegarden.com/fun-with-lemons/ We had one at a previous house and I’ve planted one at our new house (stand by for progress report in several years).
    Like the US, Australia is a big country with lots of climate zones and Asia next door, so there’s a wide range of options, often year round. In recent years, foods traditionally used by our Indigenous peoples have become more popular but many of them are obviousy seasonal. I use several of the spices. https://theculturetrip.com/pacific/australia/articles/a-guide-to-bush-tucker-australias-native-foods/ However top of my picks is the macadamia nut, now grown commercially (I’d be an addict if they werent so expensive). Apart from the usual suspects in my own garden, I grow spaghetti squash, ananis melons (sometimed known as pineapple melons), tromboncino and a variety of Asian greens.

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  2. Aw, this just reminds me my monkey-loving little boy has sadly outgrown Curious George. We, uh, have oranges. Lots of oranges. My parents used to have 5 orange trees in the backyard. Though I grew up with a lot of Asian fruits and vegetables that my classmates didn’t believe were real.

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      1. I don’t think so, but it was always fun watching my classmates puzzle through what I was talking about. Bitter melon always perplexed them.

        My son has outgrown the show, but 5 years straight of watching it has imprinted every episode on my brain. Though he now reads the books on repeat. Fortunately, he can read them on his own now!

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  3. Pennsylvania Crops..heavy on all kinds of apples but also different things like Broccoli Raab, Celeriac, Chicories, Rhubarb to name a few..think the most interesting imported fruit I had was a pomelo or star fruit or prickly pears

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  4. We have tamarillos – which when I was a kid we called them tree tomatoes. They changed the name to tamarillos at the same time they changed the name of Chinese Gooseberries to Kiwifruit in an attempt to market them overseas. Kiwifruit took off but tamarillos really didn’t. Tamarillos are quite tart – you can eat them with a spoon (like an egg – just cut off the top) or you can make a dessert pie. As well as tasting quite nice they look spectacular in the garden with these red (also yellow variety) lanterns hanging from the tree!

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  5. I am receiving some seed from a researcher at Auburn University for Bottle Gourd and Bitter Melon – neither of which I am familiar with. We have a growing South Asian population in the Fort Worth area and these are frequent items in their diet. They are trying to market to South Asian food stores in particular. I’ll let you know how this goes.

    As for me, I grew up with ranching and farming so BBQ and Southern comfort foods are a staple…

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    1. Out of curiosity, do foreign fruits not grow here -maybe because of the pollinators problem discussed in Poisonwood Bible? You’d think a bee would know a flower when it sees one…

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  6. I think our climate is similar to yours so far as growing is concerned. We have a range of berries like yours Inc gooseberries loganerries mulberries. The root veg look simiar too. We have a lot of brassica beyind several varities of cabbage and broccoli.
    The one fruit I’m sure we will never see in either your or our stores is the durian, a local Singapore delicacy… I came across it when visiting my son there. It was … interesting!

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  7. We mostly have the same fruits and vegetables here too, though do you have feijoas where you are? They are small green oval fruits. You cut them in half (like kiwifruit) and scoop out their creamy flesh. It’s a bit hard to describe their flavour, you could say it’s like a mixture of strawberry, guava, and pineapple all combined. They’re not native to New Zealand, but they’re very popular here and a lot of people grow them.

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  8. Like most things, I’m going to bet cake happened by accident. A mound of flour was left sitting on a rock in the hot sun. A chicken walked by, laid an egg on top of it. The egg cracked and the rest is history. People experimented after that. What can I add to this to make it it good? Mmm cake.

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  9. Where I grew up, we had a large number of bean varieties. Not just your typical pinto, lima, and green beans!

    We had cut shorts, greasy beans, Jacob’s cattle, pink tips, half-runners, and others that I’m too lazy to think of right now. My favorite were/are the pink tips – but they don’t grow too well “off the mountain”, and I only get them when I visit my hometown. I also don’t know if many people are terribly into bean varieties or if it matters to people, haha.

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