Sunday, February 1, 2009

The closer you come, the sweeter it tastes.

I've often heard the closer one comes to a fruit's native land, the better said fruit will taste. And although I've had ample opportunity to test this theory, I think perhaps it's only making an impact this time around. In my short time in Seoul, I've eaten apples and bananas that taste of a type of heaven that I have not been unfamiliar with in this lifetime.
First, I should clarify a few things:
1. I grew up in northern Michigan, which is apple country and have lived for a number of years in Portland, Oregon, just south of the great apple state of Washington.
2. I visited the Big Banana in Coff's Harbour, Australia when I was 17. They have a banana farm there and I ate a banana split, but I don't remember much more about the place.

Apples do really well in point 1's parts of the world, but we all know apples are not native to these areas. Apples can also be really tasty in point 1's parts of the world, but many may know that familiar tastes can be improved by unfamiliar surroundings. Be it proximity to the apple's native seeding ground or remove from that which is familiar, I find my experience with the round-ish fruit here in South Korea awakens something inside of me. The crunch, the aroma, the sweet juice, (the absence of mealiness), all let me know that this is right. This is what apple--sagwa--was meant to be...

As for point 2, I must admit my ignorance to the world of fruit and most other things when I was 17 years old. A banana is a banana is a banana, I would have assumed. Hence, I ordered a banana split, totally destroying any chance I had of tasting a maturely picked banana. But if the experience of consuming Guinness beer in many parts of the world, save Ireland, is to be my guide (and it will be for the time being), then there is indeed proof that things taste better the closer you get to their place of origin.

The Netherlands is the closest I've come to the original recipe and the Netherlands is where I prefer to drink my Guinness these days. It certainly isn't as good in the U.S. It's not even as good in Germany. (I'm saving the real deal in Ireland for later in life, there is no point in rushing good things and what reason is there to live without reason to live?)

Back to bananas: I'm not in a tropical paradise here. The bananas I consume in Seoul are not gingerly plucked from a tree in the foothills. They come from somewhere else and perhaps it's really only conjecture at all that I am now closer to the tree from which they were pulled than I was in the northern United States. I can safely say that I am closer to their native place in this world, if that counts for anything. At any rate, they taste better. And they do amazing things with themselves that I've not seen before...

They plump like Ball Park Franks. I've had bananas turn brown, become mushy, and take on a sickly sweet flavor that makes them good only for baking banana bread, but I've never had one open itself up and attempt to lay seed on my kitchen counter. That, my dear readers, is beautiful. And it's edible to boot.

While the skins of these popped bananas are speckled with brown, the fruit inside is still firmer and more flavorful than any be-speckled banana I've had the misfortune to peel Stateside or in Europe. It's as if the fruit is telling me in the most natural way possible that it's ready now. Eat.

And eat I do. Here's to fruits you thought you knew!

P.S. I've not yet encountered Guinness here, but I'm sure I'll only try it once when I do... for the sake of experiment, of course.

1 comment:

  1. I'll give you the banana, but I stand by our lovely Pink Ladies -- my all time favorite Northwest Apple. It sounds like you're having a swell time exploring your new city. I enjoyed reading your posts.
    Mary (btw it didn't like my url) Edwards