After having bitched about the unusual cold that gripped California in the last 3 weeks, today I was reminded why I am so lucky to live here. Spectacular sunny day, temperatures in the upper 60’s and an intense desire to ditch work and veer toward the beach. And while wandering around the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market I am once again made aware that, while most of the country is making do with onions, potatoes and anemic imported tomatoes, our farmers were already displaying rhubarb, the most delicate bok choy, tender purple carrots, berries and Tahitian Squash. Say what?

It’s not often that one comes across unknown produce and it is exciting when it happens, well to me at least. This gigantic specimen was on offer on the stand of McGrath Family Farms. I asked how it differed from a butternut, to which it closely resembles, with a thinner neck and about 2 feet long. I was told the flesh is extremely sweet and it can be used for roasting or baking.

Upon further research, it seems like McGrath is the only farm to grow this particular cultivar in Southern California. Some say it tastes  like a mixture of pumpkin and watermelon and apparently its sweetness increases during storage. I didn’t end buying it settling for some cabbage instead, being in the mood to stink up the house and for some potatoes which are a cross between a Yukon and a Russet. The farmer assured me they would make a perfect hash and I decided to trust him.

At  Regier’s I tasted a pineapple guava, a small worm shaped fruit the size of an apricot with a bright green skin. The flesh was an unappealing tinge of grey/pink but once in my mouth it melted into a sweetness unknown to guava while retaining some of that tropical sourness. Perfect for a gelee.

Now, have you ever come across fruit or vegetables you had never seen before?



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