Grok My Enthusiasm (51)

By: Steph Burt
December 28, 2016

One in a weekly series of enthusiastic posts contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars.

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feijoa

Compared directly to most other fruits, the feijoa will usually disappoint. Even its alternate name, “pineapple guava,” invites comparison to something bigger, more famous, and likely sweeter. Those who encounter a feijoa for the first time, if they’re unlucky and get it unripe, will complain that it tastes like soap and wax; those who get lucky, finding it soft but not rotten, wrinkled but far from shriveled, may still find soapy, waxy overtones.

Nor is the egg-shaped, just above egg-sized fruit visually prepossessing: with its less-than-lustrous rind, Kelly green or forest green: from across a table, you might see it as a gargantuan olive. If you look for feijoas at grocers outside New Zealand they’ll be, if not outnumbered, then outshone, dwarfed by coconuts and papayas, or dazzled into obscurity by the carnelians and oranges of dragonfruit and horned melon beside them in the tropical-fruit stall. They don’t even have the hairy, homely, kid-friendly reverse charm of the kiwi fruit, that success story which the Feijoa Growers Association of New Zealand hopes — likely in vain — to replicate.

And that’s another reason to like them. A ripe or nearly ripe feijoa has pineapple, passion fruit, banana, and bitter apple notes, which vary from fruit to fruit (along with the soapy waxiness): sometimes you’ll get a hint of Brie. It’s two kinds of soft inside, with two kinds of smooth pulp, one pale, opaque and milky yellow and one — arranged inside the other — semitransparent, a gel. It’s tart and sweet and creamy in almost equal measure — especially if you consume the thin skin, as you should. It’s neither remarkably soft (like passion fruit, or ripe persimmon) nor crispy-robust, nor bland. It’s exotic, if you are American or European or (as far as I know) African, though not if you’re from NZ, which means that merely holding on in the hand may remind you how relative, how contingent, ideas like “exotic” and “novel” can be.

Better yet, it’s not simple: it stands out from other delectable fruits (for me, at least) because it is such an appropriate symbol for compromise, for complexity, for any part of life — from economic policy to a child’s bedtime — that can’t be described in one phrase, in one way: it’s a pineapple banana passion fruit apple! it’s an autumn fruit (but Southern autumn) and a tart one (but not so tart), and sweet (but bitter)… The feijoa has to be called this-but-that, this-and-this-and-also-that, not-this-but-the-other-and-then, if you want to describe it at all. It would be nice to see compromise, and complexity, get more attention almost anywhere in the world right now. But I’m willing to start in a Kiwi backyard, or else in a lucky fruit aisle.

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GROK MY ENTHUSIASM: Rob Wringham on THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | Gordon Dahlquist on WEEKEND | Joe Alterio on MILLION YEAR PICNIC | Adrienne Crew on LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | Josh Glenn on THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | Alix Lambert on THE SKIES BELONG TO US | Adam McGovern on PENELOPE and CHAVEZ RAVINE | Rob Wringham on THE LYKE WAKE WALK | Mark Kingwell on NORTH STAR SNEAKERS & GWG JEANS | Gordon Dahlquist on FELLINI SATYRICON | Erik Davis on AH! | Devin McKinney on WHISPERING AFRAID | Mimi Lipson on 1973 SEARS ROEBUCK CATALOG | Jessamyn West on MOSS | Josh Glenn on THE SCOUT HOW BOOK | Brian Berger on SLACKER | Alix Lambert on ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS | Chelsey Johnson on MONOTREMES | Devin McKinney on THE BUTCHER COVER | Flourish Klink on ONE DIRECTION | Gordon Dahlquist on FULL METAL JACKET | Allegra Huston on CLOTHESLINE | Jenny Davidson on POWERLIFTING | Evan Narcisse on REZ | Deborah Wassertzug on VEGETARIAN MEATBALLS | Chris Spurgeon on WALLACE AND GROMIT | Mandy Keifetz on BENEFICIAL MICROBES | Annie Nocenti on MARKS ON WALLS | Molly Sauter on THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF | William Nericcio on LAND OF THE LOST | Dan Fox on “VOICE OF GOD” RADIO DJS | Brandi Brown on WIKIPEDIA TALK | Claire Lehmann on THE APPARATUS REVEAL | Alice Boone on COSTUME JEWELRY | Colin Dickey on WIDESPREAD PANIC | Anshuman Iddamsetty on THE FULL BODY PROJECT | John Hilgart on MAKING GRATEFUL DEAD ALBUMS | Rob Wringham on STEVEN UNIVERSE | John Overholt on DECKLE EDGES | James Hannaham on HABIT PATTERNS | Jessamyn West on THE PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM | Adam McGovern on THE SPACE GIANTS | Brian Berger on MEDIUM COOL | Chris Spurgeon on THE DUNNING-KRUGER EFFECT | Joe Alterio on TABLETOP WARGAMING | Mimi Lipson on TRASH PICKING | Jason Grote on CZECH CINEMA | Roxane Gay on AUTOMATED CAR WASH | Dan Fox on JULIA DAVIS | Amy Thielen on BINGO | Steph Burt on FEIJOA.

MORE ENTHUSIASM at HILOBROW

#SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST & dozens of other squads | GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other new wave songs. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other fantasy novels from 1934–43. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other old-school hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.

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