There was a lot of interesting stuff at the markets on Saturday. I got several items that I will feature in the coming days. The most unusual item I spotted were these fantastic looking â€œJapanese tomatoesâ€ – according to my suki. He only had a dozen or so pieces and I was kind of intrigued but shocked by the PHP350 a kilo price so I bought just three pieces. I have never read about, seen or run across these tomatoes before. They have an elongated shape with somewhat pointy ends. My reference books have yielded nada on the fruit and a quick search on the internet didnâ€™t yield any additional information. Even more reason to be intrigued, I thought. Probably not even a tomatoâ€¦ I have done several entries on tomatoes before but the shape, color, smoothness of the skin and firmness and density of flesh really had me wonderingâ€¦
I sliced the tomato this morning and it yielded the most stunning color insideâ€¦ blood red juices running freely, the most incredibly dark seeds and an unexpectedly tough skin. Even its fragrance was intriguing and rather strong by tomato standards. The structure of the fruit seems to point to a tomato. So with great expectations I popped a piece into my mouth and, well, it was truly disgusting! Bitter chewy skin, sour icky flesh and pulpâ€¦ there must be something wrong. Is it unripe? Are they only used for cooked dishes? Will someone please explain these fruit to me? I would really like to know more as I must not have this rightâ€¦
Postscript – I couldn’t stand it so I went to the bookstore to look this up. Turns out it is a Tamarillo or Tree Tomato (Solanum betaceum). And worse, you aren’t supposed to eat the skin. Yech, no wonder it tasted so awful. The Tamarillo is believed to be native to Peru, Chile and Ecuador according to Elizabeth Schneider’s book Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini. The fruit is usually pureed or chopped (without the skin) and used in sauces, soups and salsas. Mostly, it is cooked and always it is peeled…egads, I hope I don’t die from skin poisoning from eating the skin earlier… Lesson of the day? Don’t always believe what your suki tells you. Again, this is a Tamarillo, not a Japanese tomato!