The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at the home of Sallie Mabon. Angie Williams and Diana Norris cohosted with Mabon.
Mabon began the November program reflecting on our blessings and how our needs are met by the harvest time bounty God provides. She read from James Weldon Johnson’s poem about the creation and the forbidden fruit. Mabon and Norris prepared for their program by going to the International Farmer’s Market and purchasing lesser known, unusual fruits and vegetables that are available to us from around the world.
Today’s globalized economy and the long ago Oriental trading trails have made available unusual foods that we can enjoy today. Mabon and Norris had the garden club members and guests play a game guessing and naming the eleven fruits and vegetables.
Indian bitter melon is a member of the gourd family that contains lutein, lycopene and is thought to fight cancer and diabetes and help with the digestion. Those disease fighting properties make it very popular today.
Chayote fruit or merleton (Cajun name) is cooked like a squash but tastes like a potato. Chinese okra or luffa is eaten and has a squash-zucchini flavor. The dragon fruit was a colorful piece that stands alone as a table decoration with its red shell and green tips that give it its dragon like skin. The cactus blooms several times a year and the fruit tastes like a strawberry and pear cross.
Prickly pear cactus contains lots of Vitamin C and fiber and grows on sand dunes from Florida to the North East. The fruit can be made into jelly and its juices flavor many candies and jellies.
Thai eggplant, small and purple or purple and white is used in curry dishes. Horned melon fruit, kiwano, or hedge gourd looks like a blowfish but is a delicious fruit snack. One fruit from the mulberry family, breadfruit, has a distinguished literary history as you rarely read a lost at sea, Captain Bligh, or Pacific boating-island hopping-sea adventure story that does not involve eating breadfruit.
The South American pepino melon is grown for its sweet fruit that reminds one of cucumbers with their large seeds. One of the most intriguing fruits at the program was “Buddha’s Hand,” a fragrant citron variety that features twisted fingers that can be broken off and steeped for a lemony tea. When the stems tips curl inward the fruit is thought to look like the praying hands of Buddha. Joan Allen identified the fruit and said she sees it at Whole Foods where cooks use it as a lemon substitute.
Cherimoya, native to the Andes, but is so popular it is now grown in North and South America and throughout California. The flesh is creamy white with black seeds that must not be eaten because they are toxic, but then a peach pit and apple seeds also are toxic. The flavor is a blend of pineapple, banana, papaya, peach and strawberry and Mark Twain called it the most delicious fruit known to man. Some call it ice cream fruit and say its tastes like bubblegum.
No club member was able to identify more than two of the unusual fruits and veggies, but all recognized and sampled the slices of colorful papaya. The program was fun and a wonderful learning experience.
Several quick announcements were made before breaking for refreshments: Mt. Venus serves its Thanksgiving fundraiser the next Saturday from 12-3 at Mt. Carmel. The funds raised goes to families in need. Menlia Trammell told about being recognized for her book Team up for Turtles and presenting her book at the Redbud meeting. The state garden club is actively following the state allowed development at Jekyll Island and its certain effects on the sea turtles population.
December 5th from 12-3 a Christmas tea is planned at Carla Snider’s and December 14th from 10:30 – 12:30 is Sallie Mabon’s annual Christmas Coffee. Sally Neal announced she will be decorating the Greenville railroad bridge and hanging the Christmas wreaths at the courthouse during the Thanksgiving holidays. The Hobsons will be decorating the courthouse with the lighted trees again this year.
Mabon, Norris and Williams treated everyone to a delicious luncheon of homemade chicken vegetable soup, pimiento and chicken salad croissant sandwiches, and chocolate bread pudding.