Thursday, March 5, 2009

Kumquats


I was psyched when I went to my local grocery store last week and found kumquats for sale. Kumquats are not a common feature in produce departments -- the only other place I’ve ever found them in New York City is Chinatown. I never expected them in my local Gristede’s.

These kumquats weren’t the freshest I’d ever seen, but they looked more or less OK, so I bought them. Having polished them off over the course of a few days, I went back last night for another pint. The typically gruff cashier looked quizzically at them as she rang me up. She said she’d never had one, and seemed dubious when I told her the whole fruit is eaten -- everything but the seeds. The woman behind me in line volunteered that her grandmother used to eat them, but she personally didn’t like them.

They’re definitely an acquired taste. I remember eating a kumquat when I was a kid and thinking it was the most disgusting thing ever. They’re a sweet and sour, citrusy burst of flavor -- kind of like pulpy orange zest with a sweet kick. (My mom says they’re better bird food than people food.)


What’s especially funny about these kumquats is they’re grown in Dade City, Fla., which is about 20 miles from where I grew up. It’s pretty weird to be in New York and eating this little fruit that came from the soil of good old Pasco County. But apparently Dade City has become known as the Kumquat Capital of the World -- the town even has a Kumquat Festival, which I’m sure arrived after my own departure, as I never heard about it as a kid.

My mom’s next door neighbor has a kumquat tree, and when I’m home for Christmas I often dip into her yard for a handful of kumquats. (With permission, of course!) They’re terrific right off the tree -- and a lot cheaper than $3.99 a pint at Gristede’s!

(Photos: Reflections from the colored glass of the Westin hotel on the facade of the old New York Times building, W. 43rd Street)

6 comments:

Barbara said...

I never acquired a taste for kumquats, although they even grew in my part of Florida as well. Maybe I should try again as an adult, now that sour things appeal to me!

Utahdog! said...

Kumquats only exist on this planet so we can have fun with the word kumquat! Anything with 'quat' in it is funny. They are nasty to eat though.

e said...

My grandparents had kumquat trees in their yard in Florida and would dry and candy them, which is the only way to eat them that I can stand. They were actually pretty good.

Squirrel said...

I had no idea you were blogging again, yay!
Love kumquats--We had them growing all over in Los Angeles, and free fruit -tastes just fine to me.
Loquats too, altho they are not related despite the Quat.

Merle Sneed said...

We had a kumquat tree at our last house. I don't so much like them.

Adrianne said...

I had similar experiences with figs and persimmons. My grandmother adored both and tried to convince me to like them, too, but I always went, "Eeeewwww!!!" Now, about 30 years later, I love both. I've never had a kumquat, although I sometimes see them in the Capitol Hill Safeway, of all places. Perhaps I'll try one next time they're available.