With all the buzz about the new Star Trek movie, it seems appropriate to highlight some real-world exotic foods that would fit right into this multi-generation SciFi universe. Whether you are a Trekkie or a Foodie or a TrekkieFoodie (?), this cast of other-worldly foods from Frieda’s Specialty Produce is actually quite delicious, if you’re brave enough to put one into your shopping basket…
Rambutan – More like a tropical sea creature than a Southeast Asian delicacy, the spiky crimson-red shell of the rambutan, or hairy cherry as it’s known in Vietnam, covers a succulent, pearly, juicy fruit with a fragrant rosy flavor of strawberries and muscat.
Kiwano – Like the surface of Mars with jagged peaks rising from an orange and red ringed surface, the Kiwano®, or horned melon, looks more at home on the set of Star Trek than in your refrigerator. Underneath its cosmic shell is a brilliant lime-green pulp with cucumber-like seeds and a tart refreshing flavor of melon, citrus, cucumber and banana. In Star Trek lingo, this is a Golana Melon (see below).
Lychee – Treasured by Chinese royalty for thousands of years, fresh Lychees are slowly being discovered by Westerners for their ultra-sweet taste and exotic appeal. About the size of a large grape, each Lychee has a rough, rose-colored skin covered with small raised bumps. Beneath the thin and leathery peel is a fragrant pearly-white flesh surrounding a single black seed. The Lychee’s flavor is candy-sweet, perfumy and floral with musky grape-like undertones.
Longan – These grape- to plum-sized Asian fruits, which are related to lychees, are sometimes called “dragons’ eyes,” because peeling their thin brown shells reveals a transparent, jellylike fruit with a large, dark seed in its center. Sometimes referred to as the “little brother of the Lychee,” the sweet Longan tastes somewhat musky but not quite as sweet or perfumy as the Lychee.
Cherimoya – Cherimoyas are somewhat heart-shaped with thin green, etched skin similar to a closed pinecone. They have creamy white pulp with a wonderful sweet, custard-like flavor when ripe – a combination of papaya, banana, and pineapple.
Chayote Squash (the hairy variety) – This member of the gourd family was cultivated as far back as the Aztec and Mayan civilizations. It is pale apple-green with a smooth skin but can have hair-like spines. Chayote, pronounced chy-o-tay, is very mild in taste, similar to that of a cucumber-zucchini combination.
Chinese Long Beans – Aka yardlong beans, these legumes grow up to 18 inches in length. They taste like firm, meaty green beans.
Passion Fruit – The Passion Fruit’s smooth, thick purple skin wrinkles when ripe enclosing tiny sacs of gelatinous orange-colored juice and tiny black edible seeds. The essence of this pulpy jelly is a combination of tart, citrusy bursts of flavor and musky sweet guava tones.
Mangosteen – An exotic new import from Thailand, Frieda’s Fresh Mangosteens are a tropical fruit explosion that melts in your mouth. Inside each Mangosteen’s woody dark purple shell are 5 to 7 plump, moist cream-colored sections whose flavor has been described as… “indescribable.”
Bittermelon – This bumpy-skinned vegetable is bitter in taste due to its high quinine content. It is native to the cuisines of tropical south China, southeast Asia, and India where it is pickled. Originally, bitter melon, or foo qua, was used as medicine believed to purify the blood.
Wintermelon – This large member of the squash family has a pale green skin covered with a snowy white film that looks like a light dusting of snow. The flesh is white and very soft and similar in taste to zucchini. Winter melons can range in size from that of a large cantaloupe to up to 100 pounds.
Tamarindo – The Tamarind Pod’s hard peanut-shaped shell contains a sticky date-like pulp with a sweet-sour apricot flavor that can be eaten raw or used to make a syrup for drinks, chutneys and candies when mixed with sugar.
FruitNut Factiod: The producers from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine purchased Kiwano Melons from Frieda’s in the 1990s. The spiky yellow Kiwano played a pivotal role in the episode called “Time’s Orphan,” and was called “Golana Melon.” (About 4 minutes into this video.)