The Kiwano Horned Melon

by Lauren Mote

Oh the joy… the absolute bliss and amazement. I actually found something in the Urban Fare grocery store, that I had never, ever seen before, and it was reasonably priced so I could conduct research and experiments. I, Lauren, am a “food nerd”.

How did this go again,… oh yes, like this.

I was walking by the “exotic” fruit department and I heard the entire display case calling me. I glanced over, started feeling around at different fruits… green figs, persimmons, prickly pears, passion-fruit, and then this weird looking orange spiky thing. It’s appearance truly reminded me of every villain I have ever battled in “Super Mario Bros.”, namely “Bowser”. I couldn’t find the price or the description, all I had was the tiny sticker calling this “thing” a Horned Melon.

Intrigued, as most people in my situation would be, I gathered the rest of my grocery items and headed home. I was all prepared to dig in when I realized I should research my new experiment before consuming it. The first hit I had on www.google.ca was wikipedia; it states that the horned melon has many aliases including kiwano, melano, African horned cucumber or melon, jelly melon, hedged gourd and English tomato. Allegedly, this fruit has a kiwi-like taste when it’s almost ripe, and then a slight banana-cucumber taste as it ripens more. In fact, I did not know that banana and cucumber even had taste similarities, but I’ll take wikipedia’s word for it as I am not about to check that reference myself!

As I exit wikipedia, I read a few consumer reviews on the kiwano melon. Other people seem to be just as curious as me. They’re searching for a unique gastronomical quest, or culinary enlightenment. I just wanted to bring something strange home and try it. I was hoping the melon would surprise me.

It sure did.

My official stance is this: the inside flesh is gorgeous. It looks like a cross between a kiwi and a cucumber – really dark green, with little white seeds. It smells fresh, which I like. The taste and texture is bizarre, unlike anything I have ever had before. The feeling in your mouth is similar to the first bite of an unripe tomato. Slight pressure required to bite through with a small juicy explosion. Maybe I am more adventurous then others when I say that it’s really not that bad. I cannot say it’s going to replace the apple in my lunch-box, but I think I can make it work in some way. The seeds are the only aggravating part of the whole fruit because if I decide to use the pulp for some insane lab report, or food exercise, the seeds must be removed, but they’re really imbedded into each translucent segment. Damn.

Perhaps I will require the use of a fine mesh strainer, and a rubber spatula. Theoretically, after the seeds are removed,  then what? I am still struggling to find things that cucumber suit other then chomping raw and in salads.

As I continued reading through research and reviews, while momentarily glancing at the kiwano on the counter for inspiration, I found something funny. The following link is to a recipe for “kiwano, pineapple and banana sorbet” and the author recommended not buying kiwanos ever, but if you made the exact same silly mistake the rest of us did, and felt nauseous about spending the money on this melon to just chuck it away, this recipe is for you.

As I read a little further through another review, I discovered this: kiwanos are “decorative fruit” because they’re pretty and do not spoil quickly; also it’s not recommended that mammals consume them, as they are slightly toxic. Wow. Watch out adventurous fruit eaters… the melon is poison! Ok, ok, not that poisonous, just not recommended in large doses. Even still, this is false advertising, the melon is being sold in a “grocery store” amongst the other “melons”.

So, after careful consideration, I have decided to swallow the loss of $5.99 plus tax and throw the darn thing away. There will not be any experimental cooking, nor an endorsement for kiwano sorbet.

Instead, I felt it necessary to email Urban Fare in Yaletown and educate the Store Manager on what I had just learned.

Hopefully he’ll remove the kiwano from circulation, or attach appropriate signage, for us, the gullible and curious bunch of foodies.

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About Lauren Mote

Lauren has been an intricate part of the food industry for many years. Whether it’s behind the bar, in the kitchen, tasting and learning about wine, or sitting with her laptop writing food stories and reviews at the local coffee house, it was clear at an early age that Lauren’s professional and personal life would be completely consumed by the joy and passion of edibles.
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