Foreign Grocery Friday: The Sweet Cucumbers of Peru
When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!
Though it's mostly pre-packaged foreign snack foods and beverages that boggle the brain, every so often we'll pass a produce cart and pick up some fruit or vegetable that has never before made it onto our plate. Last time this happened was with the Salak of Southeast Asia. This time, it's on another continent entirely and at the foot of the Andes, in Cusco, Peru. The mystery orb? A sweet cucumber.
Holding it in hand, you'd never guess this to be named cucumber anything. Its looks are closer to a tomato mated with a beach ball. In fact it goes by other names we find more fitting, including "pepino melon" and "mellowfruit." A sister fruit that seems to be found on the US west coast is the "lemon cucumber. Yum!
The taste: Mellow! Not cucumber-y in the slightest, but far more similar to a honeydew melon, but with the crispness of the cucumber interior. We tried the sweet cucumber on its own, sliced, and then also had it juiced with breakfast at Cusco's Palacio Nazarenas Hotel, where they keep the sweet cucumbers poolside, ready for a quick refresher. The juice is very mild with a satisfying amount of pulp that makes it a suitable substitute for orange juice, if you're into pulp.
The price: Cheap! From a fruit stand or Cusco city grocer, they're less than 50 US cents each (1.30 Peruvian soles). The juice at Palacio Nazarenas is complimentary to guests.
Where to find them: In Cusco, we found our whole ones to slice at both Minimarket Gato near the new JW Marriott and Supermercado Mega.
If you'd like to share some of your foreign grocery finds, we'd love love love to see them. Send 'em on over via email here and snack on, my friends.
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]