Week of New Tastes

October 11, 2008 at 9:01 pm 10 comments

Last weekend a few friends of mine went on a backpacking trip with no food. They aimed to eat only what they could forage, to take advantage of the tastes and bounty the great forests of the Shenandoah Mountains had to offer. Their menu was vastly different than the usual restaurant offerings, so they got to experience a variety of new tastes.

This week, I also got to try some new tastes. But I got to do it from the comfort of my own home (which by the way is For Sale!!!), with ready access to Food Lion to supplement my diet AND unlike one of my friends, I would not end up getting dreadfully ill from bad crabapples.

This week, I tasted the products of two different types of trees that were growing locally.

Chinese Chestnut
Sunday, I met a crew at Catawba’s famous The Home Place for Brunch. For those of you who don’t know, The Home Place is incredibly popular and there is usually a lengthy queue for a table. While we waited, I wandered the grounds and found a Chinese Chestnut growing, surrounded by tons of fallen burrs. I grabbed a few and a leaf, mostly for my continued education about the American Chestnut.

But then… those chestnuts sat in my car and looked delicious. So I decided to eat one. It turns out it is quite easy! You crack the shell a little and stick it in the microwave to heat it up.

Educational material….that I would eventually eat.

OMG! It is DELICIOUS!!!!!! And what boggles my mind– the American Chestnut is supposed to taste even better! #@*&^%!!! How is that even possible?!?!

That one chestnut was SO delicious that the next day, I walked my dogs and just happened to mosey by another Chinese Chestnut tree I spied on Givens Road. I had every intent on snagging another chestnut to devour. Alas, the squirrels beat me to it.

So Plan B. That one chestnut was SO delicious that the next day, I groped underneath the passenger seat of my car (my very very very messy car) because I believed I had another chestnut that rolled underneath it. I was right! I found it. Muahaha.

If you haven’t heard of a pawpaw, then I needed to work better on selling the Passion for Pawpaws Roanoke Times article in my Links for 2008-10-08 post. My bad.

Quick synopsis about pawpaws- They are the U.S.’s largest edible native fruit. But because they have a short shelf-life, they were never cultivated, so we don’t hear about them. That doesn’t mean they aren’t great– they were one of George Washington’s favorite desserts! That’s right– if the Father of Our Country did the Mosiac Meme, tile #9 may very well look like:

Part of George Washington’s Mosaic Meme? (Photo by Vicki’s Pics)

I had already heard a couple of great things about pawpaws, but the Roanoke Times article sealed the deal. I needed to eat one and since they were fruiting now, I needed one STAT.

I sent out a flurry of emails and even a Twitter inquiry, looking for pawpaws. My search did not look promising. Over the years I have built up a lot of solid contacts of outdoorsy folks. And yet, half the people replied, “What’s a pawpaw?” and then the other half told *me* to get *them* one.

I did web searches. I stopped by the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market. I did more web searches. All to no avail.

And then……

Craig’s List!

Someone was selling them on Craig’s List…and not too far from my house!!! Four for a Dollar! Four! A Dollar! I ran over there in the rain, deposited my dollar and grabbed four of them. I was pretty full from supper, so I let the fruit sit on my counter overnight.

I woke up the next morning to my entire house smelling like decadent pawpaw. They are very fragrant! With the exception of checking email and posting to Facebook (about pawpaws), the first thing I did that morning was scurry downstairs and eat a pawpaw.

OMG! It is DELICIOUS!!!!!! I keep reading that it is like a cross between a bananna and a mango. I would actually describe it as reminiscent of mango crème brûlée. And do you know what my favorite dessert was on the Mosiac Meme? Crème brûlée! I think George Washington may be on to something here.

That one pawpaw was SO delicious that I found myself sucking on the skin just to get as much flavor as was absolutely possible.

First thing in the morning (aka no makeup or shower)- sucking on a pawpaw

Anyway, if you live in the Blacksburg area and want to try some for yourself– you are in luck! Visit 1007 Turner Street. There is a self service fruit stand in the front yard. The owners expect to have pawpaws for two more weeks.

What’s Next?

What my next new tree taste? I gathered up some nuts from Larry’s Shagbark Hickory trees. I’m going to let the nuts dry out a couple of months before cracking into them!

Entry filed under: Chestnut, Food, Pawpaw.

w00t! The Greenbrier

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Clint  |  October 11, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    They should have mawmaws too.

    Anyway — I challenge someone to do the mosaic meme as George Washington. But try to google to find out what George Washington’s answers really are.

  • 2. TGAW  |  October 11, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    @Clint – I thought about making George Washington’s Mosaic to accompany this post… but when I realized I would have to research all the other questions, I quickly lost interest.

  • 3. Aaron  |  October 13, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    This chestnut fetish is getting out of hand!

  • 4. tgaw  |  October 13, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    @Aaron – This chestnut obsession is *just* starting! 🙂

  • 5. ideonexus  |  October 14, 2008 at 11:10 am

    @Clint-I don’t know about GW, but I bet the guy who does the Jefferson Hour could do Jefferson’s mosaic. I wonder if there’s an equivalent for Washington?

  • 6. tgaw  |  October 14, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Tony’s pawpaw review:

    “We ate it for dessert and it was scrumptious! I can’t really describe what it tasted like, but I think similar to the smell. In short I’d say that it is a tasty tropical flavor and I look forward to eating another one!”

  • 7. Dismal Swamp State Park « TGAW  |  November 12, 2008 at 8:02 am

    […] once called the Dismal Swamp “a glorious paradise.” Between this and his accurate assessment of the pawpaw, I’ve come to really respect George […]

  • 8. Rhodos All Around « TGAW  |  March 28, 2009 at 12:59 am

    […] remind me of my childhood. Tulip Poplars make me think of my sister. I have suddenly developed a distinct fondness for the Pawpaw just in this past week! The Keffer Oak entices me to visit repeatedly and I ever so covet getting […]

  • 9. Pawpaw Hunting at Dismal Swamp State Park « TGAW  |  September 20, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    […] largest indigenous, edible fruit typically ripens between August and September. Last year, I purchased my pawpaws from a lady in Blacksburg who had two trees in her yard. They were delicious– like a mango crème brûlée. They were […]

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