fresh produce makes me giddy. when my fridge is stocked with flavorful veggies and my counter is overflowing with colorful fruit, i am thrilled. creating delicious meals is so much better with lots of fresh ingredients.
i like to purchase some produce at the ethnic markets around the city for the interesting variety they offer. there is a tiny, but well-known, mediterranean deli in okc that i frequent. the food is delicious and authentic, the owner always happy and helpful, and the small market is somehow stocked with every possible item you might want to put together a wonderful mediterranean meal. between stopping in occasionally for lunch, stocking up on fatayah and lebni for my titu, and general shopping trips for my own kitchen, i visit often enough that they know my “usual” order.
they have exotic produce choices like prickly pears, sweet limes, and unusual varieties of eggplant and cucumbers. recently i noticed some baskets filled with small orbs i couldn’t identify, and the friendly owner of the deli informed me that they are just the very fresh versions of familiar foods. so of course i bought some to try.
my first exploratory sample was these straight-off-the-tree pistachios. once you break through the thick skin, the recognizable clam-shaped shell is revealed, with the green nut inside. the shell and nut are not completely dried like the pistachios i’m used to eating, so they have a softer texture with less crunch. still yummy, but too much extra work to get inside.
these unripe dates were fun, because they tasted good crunchy or soft (but much better fully ripened). the difficult part was waiting for them to get soft and sweet before eating them. and the pit was harder to remove before they fully ripened.
i never would have guessed that this little pod contained a fresh green garbanzo bean! it was a strange to eat a handful of raw beans—they were soft and a little tangy. the flavor was nothing like the dried-then-cooked chickpea that i’m familiar with. i’m not sure exactly how one would use them…as is, cook from this stage, or dry then cook?
i also tried some fresh almonds that were white and kinda juicy beneath the fuzzy exterior. i like that they retain their natural water, because i usually soak my nuts prior to eating, anyway. but the flavor was not “nutty” to me (which i prefer), and some were still a bit jelly-like in the center (which i did not prefer).
in the end my adventure in eating fresh was short-lived, at least when it comes to beans and nuts. it was a fun experiment to share, but i don’t see these foods being in my regular rotation of snacks.