July 09, 2008

Custard Apple: Try It, You'll Like It

I have a hard time understanding why people won’t try new things. I understand if you’re allergic to something but that’s the only legitimate excuse. What completely baffles me are people who simply refuse to try a new food for no apparent reason other than that they assume they won’t like it. But how do you know??? And even if you don’t like it, will one bite kill you? At least if you try a bite you can justifiably say that you don’t care for it, (or perhaps find out that you really enjoy it). You can then cross that food off the list of ‘foods left to try’. I find this kind of stubborn behaviour especially surprising from my peers in the Chef Training program. Some of them refuse to eat the foods we’re making. How are you going to know how a dish is supposed to taste and how to season it properly if you’ve never even eaten it? There were quite a few wannabe chefs who refused to even touch the ox tongue let alone sample it when we prepared it last semester. I wanted to slap them in the face with the giant thing. It would have been the tongue lashing of their lives…

One of the best things I’ve discovered while trying new things is the custard apple, (it goes by a few other names too, from the fruit family annona). I had my first taste of custard apple at the New Farm farmer’s market in Brisbane, Australia. I was wandering around, sampling everything I could get my hands on when I came across a vendor who was selling, (among other things) an ugly, bumpy green fruit. I inquired as to what it was and he happily cut me off a piece so that I could try it. The soft, sweet flesh was delicious and I immediately bought one. The custard apple then went from being a fruit I had never even heard of before trying it that day, to one of my absolute favourites. Custard apples are a little harder to find here, but like most things, if you search for it you’ll find what you’re looking for. I found my custard apple in Chinatown here in Toronto and although expensive, it’s a treat that’s well worth it.

Now I want to know what your best food find has been. What food did you try for the first time, love and now can’t believe you ever lived without? If you write a convincing argument I’ll go out of my way to find it and eat it too!

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31 comments:

gay said...

So that's the English name for what we call "atis" here in the Philippines.

Neha said...

I absolutely adore custard apples!!! It's very common in India, and we spent evenings together eating them... I am so glad you liked them too! :)

Manggy said...

Hah! I was about to say what Gay said. :P Anyway, atis does taste great, my only gripe is that it's such a hassle to be spitting out the seeds... I'm so lazy, lol :)

Candice said...

I'm often frustrated by people who won't try new foods or who have a long list of foods they hate. Picky eaters, bleh.

That said, I do sympathize with those who have dietary restrictions for personal or health reasons, for example, vegetarians or vegans.

Which makes me wonder... how the heck could a vegetarian or vegan attend chef's school! I'm totally with you, if you can't taste the food to figure out if you prepared it correctly and if you need to adjust seasonings, then you shouldn't be cooking the thing! That's part of the reason I'd never attend culinary school. As a 'vegequarian' I couldn't eat things like ox tongue.

Also: I will look for Custard Apples next time I'm in Chinatown!

Meeta said...

people who simply say they do not like it because it looks odd bug me the mos. i have visions of myself tying them up to the chair and force feeding them. then telling them Now they are ready to decide if they like it or not.
I love custard apples they are a pain to eat but I love them. I just wish we got them here more often.

aria said...

oh i love these too - they are sooo sweet. we used to call them sugar apples in the Caribbean. love them too yums!

KJ said...

Loooove custard apples!!! I am also frustrated by obstinate eaters. I am a self confessed picky eater. But I will try anything. Everything that is on my hate list has been given a fair chance.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I always look to food professionals (chefs, market owners, etc.) to lead the way in bringing foods to the attention of the rest of us. If a chef won't taste new food, then there's no reason for me to taste his/her food, as there will be nothing new there.

Carolyn said...

I discovered custard apples in Brisbane, too - right across town at the Green Flea Market in West End. It might sound strange, but they are SO good with a slice of Danish blue cheese. Not a asthetically pretty combination, but a tasty one!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Those things are delicious. My weakness is pretty much any fruit that I've never seen before at the grocery store. If something new and exotic shows up, I just have to try it. I think my absolute favorite (never found it in the US though) had to be jack fruit. It sure looked intimidating and bizarre...and then I dug in and just ate it all day until my stomach hurt, lol.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Bri, this reminds me so much of my mom!
During the time she was ill (cancer), she would completely lose her appetite and would refuse all sorts of food. Being on huge amounts of morphine wouldn't help either. So, during those days, the only thing she would eat was custard apples (and I did not know their name in English). I love the fruit and sometimes eat it and think of her. :)

Jenny said...

I don't think I've ever seen a custard apple before.
My big "exotic" is asian pears, which aren't exactly exotic but I love them so much it saddens me when they aren't available.
I recently had a try new things attempt with my children. They tried lychees, mangosteins, lobster, and some other exotic fruits as well. No real winners from it but I do have kids who take pomegranate seeds with them in their school lunches so I suppose it is a start.

lalaine said...

Ohh I miss these so much. As Gay said, these are called "atis" in the Philippines. My favorite fruit. It looks like "guyabano" but tastes different.

Nabeela said...

Custard apple is one of my favorite fruits. The best sign to tell if it's ripe is by the 'eyes'. If the eyes are well opened/spread out and the fruit is very soft and squishy, then it is ready to eat. I see people eating unripe custard apple and declaring it "yuck". THAT bugs me!

Mrs. L said...

I have never heard of a Custard Apple, but I'm sure my mom had "atis" in the Phillipines, I'll have to ask. I'm pretty game to try most stuff these days, but I can't think of anything I've tried that was "weird" that most people haven't already tried!

Taleah said...

So I'm a nerd, and in my attempt to know everything I have discovered that there are 3 different fruits (all from the same family) know as Custard Apple.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Custard-apple

Claudia said...

Wow Bri,
that thing looks exactly like a cherimoya on the inside, but the outside is different, yours is more deeply lobed - the cherimoya has a smoother skin. I had one for the first time in Hawaii and I LOVE THEM. In fact, I love them so much I'd move there to eat them. I also had rambutans for the first time there. Now there's a fruit you might be hesitant to try, it looks all weird and spiky on the outside. Inside it's sort of like a lychee.

And I can't stand people who won't try things either and chefs who won't? What is that about?

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Hmmm. I've never seen or heard of these, but they look interesting. I'd try them, but then I'll try almost anything!

I could never understand those people who turn their noses up at foods and refuse to even try them - especially culinary students! That just drives me crazy. We always had the "one bite rule" at our house.

Anh said...

Seriously come to Vietnam with me! My grandpa has several custard apple trees. they are one of the best fruits ever!

Deborah said...

I've never heard of these before - but I'm going to start looking for them!

I can't think of anything that I wouldn't try - I'm one of those people who will try anything once. Like escargot - tried it, and loved it!! There are a few foods from my childhood that I thought I didn't like, but I've been retrying them and discovering a new love for them. Like sweet potatoes. Hated them growing up, but can't get enough of them now!

Natalie said...

I've never had a custard apple, but I'll certainly keep my eyes open for them! I've recently developed a love for okra, escargot, and blue cheese.
Separately, of course!

abi said...

wow, i am about to try one now!!! - so do we just it the flesh (not the skin) or do have to boil them or something?

abi said...

by the way - i am only 13 - so i guess the custard apple is the new begining to a a life of exotic fruits!

Bellini Valli said...

Living here in K-town it would be a rare experience to come across any of these fruits like custard apple or durian. I will get the opportunity to try them one day I am sure of it:D

Bernice said...

I LOVE THIS!!! I think I'm so blessed to be staying in Singapore, where most fruits are available. =D

Hillary said...

Wow...very interesting! Thanks for teaching us about custard apples!

Yvonne said...

My grandma had a custard apple tree in the front yard when I was growing up... Sadly, I don't remember ever trying one. But I do remember holding one in my hand as a little kid, and then dropping it, and it went SPLAT! all over the floor. (Or was it a dream?)

ale balanzario said...

In spanish we call them *chirimoya*, they are so tasty,

Anonymous said...

They are NOT chirimoyas as Ale Balanzario states. In Spanish it is called ANON. Chirimoyas are a diffrent fruit. And YES Anon's are delicious. We are lucky to live in Miami where they can be cultivated.

Anonymous said...

Cherimoya and Anona are both correct terms in Spanish for the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Custard-Apples cause a quite severe form of Parkinson's disease if eaten too frequently. It is the number 1 cause of Parkinsonism in Guadaloupe - where they eat lots!