Thursday, February 7, 2013

Winter Is Not a Good Time To Be a Fruit

I was invited to a potluck on short notice. Even in the best of circumstances, I do not enjoy potlucks. I cannot cook. At all. And somehow it seems I'm always the only one attending who cannot cook. Maybe I should take a class. Or maybe I should just find people more my own level (read: inept) to hang with, so that I don't always feel so outclassed and embarrassed.

At any rate, having accepted the invitation, and having been given little time to decide on what dish to attempt and how to go about it, I chose to go with a fruit tart. From what I saw on MasterChef last summer, they seemed simple enough to make, and it's the raw fruits that do the heavy lifting with their natural flavors, so there wouldn't be much room for me to screw up. Also, I kind of just wanted one.

Consulting the Internet for guidance, I quickly realized, however, that I had already blundered. As it turns out, winter is not a good time to be a fruit (or a tart), as a lot of the more common fruit tart ingredients (e.g. berries) are not in season. But I had already committed, and I never work with a backup plan. I was just going to have to make do with whatever was in season for my winter tart. Luckily, kiwis seemed to be on most winter lists. Mandarin oranges seemed a good candidate to complement the kiwi, both aesthetically and flavor-wise. So that was two down already, and I figured one more would be enough to round out my tart.

One allegedly hardy fruit that caught my attention was guava. I had previously had guava juice and guava kombucha, and I had enjoyed the distinctive fragrant sweetness. Plus, the impression given to me by those drinks was that it was a deep pink color, which I thought would have worked well alongside the green and orange that I had already picked out.

Alas, for being one of the few fruits that is supposedly good for winter, guava is pretty near impossible to find in grocery stores. I mean, I checked a Sprouts, a Whole Foods, even a FoodLand, and came away empty-handed. I ended up having to grab a pineapple instead. It wasn't yet the best season for pineapple, but the color worked, and I could only hope that the taste would not be too far off the spring ideal.

Later, when I told my mother about my fruitless search for guava, she asked why I didn't simply pick some from her guava tree in the front yard. It was then that it occurred to me I had never actually eaten a guava, nor even seen one that wasn't merely an illustration on a juice carton. When my mother brought out a few, I saw finally that they were never going to be suitable for a fruit tart—too indivisibly messy.

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