A couple of weeks ago, I posted some pictures from a Korean grocery store, and there were pictures of chamwee, the Korean small yellow melons, and my cousin saw it and put a comment, “Is that a melon?’ I had to answer and tell her that it was. Today, there was a joke about popcorn on Facebook, and whoever drew the picture didn’t know what popcorn actually looks like. They thought it looked like sweet corn. In fact, I have seen lots of interesting fruits and vegetables around the world that one country has seen, but the other country hasn’t. Either that or we call a vegetable something it actually isn’t, or we don’t realize there is a difference between different kinds of vegetables. However, when you travel to several different countries, you actually see these things growing on trees or in gardens, and you learn that you may have been mistaken, but that was all the people knew about them in the country where you were. I have often encountered fruits or vegetables I had never seen before. I decided that today, I would show some of these fruits and vegetables that are interesting. This is by no means all I have seen, but just a few things.
As for popcorn, I saw it growing in Romania and actually used it directly off the cob. The kernels are a bit smaller and harder than if you are using sweet corn or field corn. Yes, I learned the different between them too in my travels. Field corn is what they grow to feed the cows, and its kernels are bigger, not as tender as sweet corn, and not as sweet either. Sweet corn actually is sweeter than the other corns. It is what we usually serve on our tables in America, but I have eaten field corn in Nigeria and Romania, and it is good, but it is not as good as sweet corn. As for popcorn, the leaves have to actually turn brown before you pick it. It looks more translucent than the other kinds of corn. If you go to America, you can also find Indian corn, and it is not even yellow, but muti colored, and very pretty.
When I lived in Romania, there were huge bushes of rose hip growing all around my garden. I had never even heard of it before, and my first word for rose hip was not in English, but Romanian, macheshe. I had to search to figure out what it was called in English. These are actually small red hard berries. In America, I have learned, they grind them up and put them in tea bags, but I actually boiled the ones in my garden to make my tea. They make delicious tea! It tastes like a kind of fruit tea, and it is red. They tell me it has a lot of vitamin C.
Americans, have you ever been to that chain restaurant that sells roast beef sandwiches with horse radish sauce, Arby’s? I love their roast beef sandwiches with horse radish sauce, but I had no idea what horse radish was. This is horse radish. It also grew in my yard in Romania. They told me that if you want to use it, you have to pull it up by the root and grate the root. That is the part of it that has the spicy wonderful flavor you get in horse radish sauce.
In America, we have a tendency to call sweet potatoes yams, but there is a big difference. Sweet potatoes are those that are brown/ orange inside and are actually sweet. They are lower in calories than potatoes, to my surprise, and that is why many Koreans love to eat them. However, the original things that were called yams are in Nigeria. The are long roots,much longer than the American sweet potato, and the inside is white. I have used yams in Nigeria that are as big around as my thigh and almost as long as my arm. They are like potatoes inside, but they are starchier. You can make mashed potatoes with them, and you can also cut them up and fry them in big pieces. They are delicious made that way. The Nigerians pound them and make them into a pulp before they eat them.
The first place I saw okra was in Oklahoma. In Oklahoma, they take this vegetable and either pickle it or cut it up and fry it, often times, they coat it with cornmeal before the fry it. I love fried okra, but as far as I am concerned, you can keep pickled okra. It is something that for years in my travels, I only saw in Oklahoma or perhaps Texas. However, when I went to Nigeria, I discovered they eat it too. However, they prepare it differently than the Okies. They put it in soup, and it makes the soup very slimy, but it tastes good. The first time I ate that soup was very funny because I had eaten raw eggs in Japan, and I was thinking they were doing it to me again. I didn’t want to be rude, so I asked for the recipe because I really wanted to know what was in that slimy soup, and it made sense to me when they said it was okra soup.
When we lived in Nigeria, we bought peanuts just as you see them above. They called them ground nuts. When I lived in Oklahoma, I heard that Oklahoma was the peanut capital of the world, and I knew a girl who was made peanut princess, but I didn’t see them growing in Oklahoma even though I was told they did. In Nigeria, when we bought them, we had to take them home, wash them, and roast them before we could use them. If we wanted peanut butter, we had to make it ourselves because even though peanuts are very important in Nigeria, they didn’t make peanut butter. Before they got oil, peanuts were there number one export. I was surprised to find that they eat a lot of peanut butter here in Korea, but not on sandwiches like in America. They use peanut butter more like a sauce.
Yes, what you see above are both pears. In Romania, we had a pear tree in our yard, and the pears looked exactly like the pear on the right. In America, when we eat pears, the pear on the right is what we usually think of, but that is not what a pear is like in Korea. The picture on the left has Korean pears. Korean pears are actually huge, much bigger than American or Romanian pears. If you eat one, you will want to cut it up and share it among several people. If you have an American or a Romanian pear, you need to eat it quickly because it is very soft, and it will get even softer if you don’t eat it the first day or two. They go bad quickly, so we know not to wait to eat them. However, that is not true about pears in Korea. You can wait for weeks before you eat them leaving them in the bottom of your fridge, and they are still just as good as the day you bought them.
When I lived in Nigeria, you could buy bananas on every street corner or even go into the back yard and pick them off a tree, and there was more than one kind of banana. There were the bananas that we normally think of as bananas, and then there were cooking bananas or plantains. They are sold now in some grocery stores in America. The plantains look like bananas, but are slightly different, and you can’t just open them up and eat them. They must be cooked before you eat them. The best way I found to cook them is to slice them up and fry them in butter and put salt on them. Yes, you can buy packages of dried bananas in the stores in America and in Korea, but these things are much better if you buy them uncooked, take them home, slice them up, and fry them in butter.
The chamwee is the small Korean melon. They are yellow on the outside and just slightly larger than two large apples together. They are usually longer than the picture I found. they are white inside, and they have seeds in the middle like a cantaloupe or honey dew melon. They are good.
I love cantaloupe, but you can’t find it everywhere. Cantaloupe is in the first picture. It is an orange melon. My dad used to grow it in his garden in Oklahoma for me, but I have learned you can’t find it in many countries. The second picture is honey dew melon. I heard about it in America and even ate it, but I ate cantaloupe more often. If you want a small melon in Korea, you usually only find the chamwee or the honey dew melon. However, about once a year for about a week or two if you are lucky, I have discovered that if you keep an eye on the melons in E-Mart, you might find them selling cantaloupes. Most Koreans don’t know what cantaloupes are, and when I introduced them to my Korean son in law, he was surprised because he had never seen them.
When I was in Texas, I found spaghetti squash. I had never seen it before, and I loved it! I had seen regular squash, but this is completely different from what you think of as squash. You can actually use it as spaghetti. I used to use it to try to control my weight. Except for the white stripes on the outside, they looked like the Korean chamwee melons on the outside, but they were not melons. When you cut them open, they are full of translucent looking spaghetti noodles with seeds in the middle. You can’t eat them without cooking them. I used to cut them in half, take the seeds out, turn them upside down on a flat baking pan and put them in the oven. I cooked them until they were soft, then I served spaghetti sauce over them. They tasted just like spaghetti, but without the calories from the noodles.
We all know what cabbage is. The picture on the left is a head of cabbage, but the picture on the right is also cabbage. The picture on the right is found more often here in Korea even though we can find the cabbage on the left too. The one on the right is called Chinese cabbage.
These are both called radishes, but there is a world of difference between them. The picture on the right is what the radishes looked like coming out of my dad’s garden in Texas and Oklahoma. However, the picture on the right is what radishes look like in Japan and Korea. The Japanese call them daikon, and we are told they are radishes, but they are nothing like the radishes we are used to. Our radishes are kind of spicy, and I have never eaten one cooked, but I have eaten daikon as pickles, and pickles aren’t spicy. I have also eaten them in soups, and they didn’t seem spicy in the soup either. They reminded me of a turnip. I ate turnips in England. Often, when I saw turnips on my plate, I thought they were potatoes, but when you eat them, you know instantly they aren’t potatoes because they don’t taste as good as potatoes.
We didn’t eat the gourds in Nigeria, but we had them. They are hard like wood. They are great to use for many purposes other than eating. We saw many people cut them in half and use them to dip things. If you cut them in half, they have a cup and a handle. You don’t have to make anything. God made it for you. I have seen them use them like bottles too. You just cut the top open and empty the seeds out and wash them, and they can be used like a bottle. They were extremely interesting. We bought some that were carved on the outside to make them pretty and brought them home and gave them out as gifts.
When you read the Bible, did you read about them eating figs? Well, this is what they look like. I was served some in Japan, but at the time, I had no idea what they were serving me. I kept trying to figure out what this great tasting fruit was. They are for sale here in Korea too. My Korean son in law likes to eat dried figs called joojoobees. You can often see trucks sitting in the street loaded down with joojoobees here in Korea, When they are dried, they look red outside and look like large, long, red raisins..
Okay, I think my blog is long enough. I just thought I wanted to introduce people to a few things I have seen and eaten. There are different fruits and vegetables all over the world. In many places, we eat the same things, but there are always things that are different, and it is interesting to find them and eat them, except for the Nigeria calabash. I never ate a calabash, and I am not sure you can, but you can grow them and have a dish or a bottle that no one has to make because God made it for you. I used to just buy things in stores like popcorn, but I had no idea how they made it different from the other corn, but I know now. It is a different species of corn even grown differently. Traveling teaches you so many things, and hopefully, on my blog, I can show you some of these things so you can learn a little about things like this without traveling.