Sunday, June 03, 2007
E is for Eddoe
Sometimes when you are looking for one thing you find another. I was resigned to moving from E to F in the Great Big Veg Challenge. But as my daughter and I scoured the shelves at the supermarket, I caught sight of what looked like small mounds of elephant dung. Individually they were small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Their fibrous brown skins prickled with hair, like coconuts. If you look closely, they appear to be tattooed. These creatures looked friendly. The sort of vegetable we should take home. And joy of joy the label said "Eddoe". Even the name sounded cosy. But there was a whispering campaign against the Eddoes. A fellow shopper sidled up to me as I placed them in the trolley. He grimaced at them and uttered one word in my direction. "Slimy" he said. I asked him to justify this slur on the poor eddoe. "They're really, really slimy when you cook them." Alexandra was ready to put them back on the shelves. The defamation didn't stop there. A woman brushed past with a grinning toddler. She smiled. "I wouldn't recommend them. They're not worth the effort." But having invited the eddoes home I couldn't change my mind. I waited till the two whisperers were out of sight and went to the checkout.
When we got home the first thing Freddie did was to sniff them, which seemed reasonable. "Yuck! I'm not eating these." A quick bit of research informed me that Eddoes are also known around the world as Arbi, Taro, Nampi and Coco Yam and are used in Indian, Chinese and Caribbean cooking. This is what the Great Big Veg Challenge is all about I told Freddie. New horizons, new tastes, new experiences. "Yuck", said Fred. Eddoes came with an instruction leaflet which invited me to treat them more or less like potatoes. I have learnt that the best thing to do with a completely unfamiliar vegetable is to keep it simple. We needed to learn what it tasted like. So we decided to bake them. We washed the skin and rubbed a little salt in and placed them in an oven at 180C just like a baked potato. About 50 minutes later the Eddoes emerged. I cut a little cross in their hairy skin and peeled it back. The flesh of the Eddoe is greyish-white, not an attractive pallour. But there was no sign of the slime that we had been warned about. The flesh is like a sweet potato in texture. So it was Eddoes for lunch with a dollop of butter or soured cream.
With considerable bravery, Freddie and Alexandra put aside their fears and tucked in. "This is good." said Freddie."It's tastier than a potato" said Alex.
You aren't meant to eat the skin of the eddoe but Freddie scraped off every last trace of the flesh and ate it. And he gave it full marks. I plan to lurk in the "unusual produce" section of the supermarket and start my own whispering campaign to promote the poor eddoe.