Name That Fruit

This is Guy Smiley, with another episode of "Name That Fruit, " the only quiz show in the history of the world to tackle the mysteries of the supermarket produce aisle.

Our first contestant is Rayburn Wycliffe, who's known in his home town of Bentonville, Ark., for his way with pineapple upside-down cake. (Buttermilk is the secret, so I'm told.)

The first question is a real stumper, but here goes: Name a fruit native to Mexico Central America that looks like a cross between a pinecone and a corn cob but tastes like a cross between a banana and pineapple? And here's a helpful hint: It's got a SCARY name. Thirty seconds to answer, Rayburn, and you will be the owner of a BRAND NEW Viking range!

Monstera
The weird fruit that is the Monstera. (Kim O'Donnel)


(Rayburn Wycliffe knits his eyebrows as he scours the depths of his memory bank, desperate to come up with the correct answer that will make him the envy of Bentonville. Think of how those cakes will turn out from that fancy range. Oh, the possibilities....)

Time's up, Rayburn. Do you have an answer to this perplexing produce question?

Um. Breadfruit?

Close, but not quite, Rayburn. (The buzzer goes "EHHH.")

The answer is Monster fruit, Rayburn, hence the "scary" clue. Botanically known as the split leaf philodendron, Monster is also known as Monstera deliciosa, Mexican breadfruit (See, you were on the right track!) and Ceriman.

Shaped like an elongated pinecone, with lizard-like scales, the Monster takes a full year to ripen in tropical climates. Even when it's harvested, that doesn't mean it's ready to eat; in fact, an unripe Monster is still saturated with calcium oxalate crystals that can irritate the mouth and throat. When those scales begin to loosen or pop off, that's your cue to start cutting into the flesh - but the weird trip is far from over.

Inside you'll find more of those corn-style kernels, resembling a banana in color, aroma and texture. Inhale the perfume - that imaginary "Tutti-Frutti" flavor comes to mind. Take a fork to pull the flesh away; one bite and you'll think banana, pineapple and mango all mixed together. Like I said - tutti frutti!

Eat it by its lonesome or throw it into some vanilla yogurt for breakfast. And if you're game, tell me what you think of this culinary oddball. You can find it at Whole Foods Market, for about $5.99 - I know, a bit pricey, but think of it as an Alice-in-Wonderland-esque kitchen experiment.

Still curious? Here are more Monstera tidbits.

By Kim ODonnel |  June 21, 2006; 10:30 AM ET Discoveries , Seasonal Produce
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Comments

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Hello Kim,

Like to see more interesting fruits and veggies on your blog (like the monstera)..

Best,

robert

Posted by: robert | June 21, 2006 12:00 PM

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