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A taste of the exotic at Coventry market; Food DO you know what a garden egg is or how to cook a breadfruit? Why not break from tradition and discover the wonderful range of unusual fruits and vegetables on offer in Coventry?

Byline: ANN EVANS reports.

EXPLORER Christopher Columbus may have introduced the Western world to tomatoes, potatoes and runner beans from the New World, but African, Caribbean and Asian people have continued the trend of introducing new fruit and vegetables to Britain ever since.

More and more new weird and wonderful delicacies are appearing in our supermarkets and green grocers so there's no need to stick to the usual apple, banana and orange, when you could be eating dragon fruit, papaya and pomegranate.

And when it comes to the evening meal, why not ring the changes and swop roast potatoes for roast yam, swede for dasheen and cabbage for saag and enjoy a meal with a real Afro Caribbean twist?

Daisy Oppon runs a stall in Coventry Retail Market - Daisy's Fine Foods - which specialises in African and Caribbean produce.

One of which she introduced into the country just three years ago - the white aubergine. "They are called garden eggs in Africa," said Daisy who originally comes from Ghana on the west coast of Africa. "You wouldn't find these anywhere in Coventry up until three years ago, now you'll get them here and at greengrocers on the Stoney Stanton and Foleshill Roads.

"When very white they are a little bit bitter, otherwise they are similar to normal aubergines and very nutritious.

"I also sell small Kenyan aubergines, which are just miniature versions of normal aubergines."

Among other unusual vegetables on Daisy's stall, were sweet potatoes, yams, yellow yams, dasheen, eddoes, plantain and cassava - to name but a few.

Customer Charles Hamilton, who is originally from Jamaica and now lives in Holbrooks, is a regular customer - and a keen cook.

He pointed out how versatile these vegetables are.

"Take the breadfruit which is Caribbean, you can roast it, boil it, or bake it.

"If you're looking at sweet potatoes, it's worth knowing that the Caribbean sweet potato is sweeter than those from Brazil or Israel' and eddoes are ideal for thickening soups.

He added: "You can make a wonderful soup with these vegetables. Use a variety of them, add some okra - Scottish bonnet variety, which are very hot - a little garlic and chicken stock and you have a delicious soup."

You might think you're looking at green bananas on Daisy's stall, however, they could be a fruit called plantain, which, Charles assured me, compliments bacon and are wonderful fried-up for breakfast.

WEIRD AND WONDERFUL

GUAVA: Native to the Caribbean. It has a thin skin, and is light yellow and pink. It has a strong, sweet, pungent fragrance while the flesh is white, red or salmon-coloured and flavour ranges from strawberry to lemon to tropical. They are rich in vitamin C, carotenoids, folate, potassium, fibre, calcium and iron.

PAPAYA: Originates from South Mexico and Central America. It's known to aid digestion. Rich in vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Also good sources of fibre, vitamin A, vitamin E, and carotenoids.

A ripe papaya has a golden skin. Inside, its flesh is smooth and silky with a deep orangy colour and a sweet-musky flavour.

DRAGON RUIT: Originally from Central America. Is an exotic cactus fruit that is sweet, juicy and crisp and has a taste eminiscent of ear, kiwi and watermelon. The skin's colour ranges from pink to ed with white flesh. They have tiny black edible seeds. The fruit contains plenty of vitamin C and soluble fibre that is beneficial to a healthy diet.

CAPTION(S):

JB091006EXOC_3 WORLD OF FLAVOURS... Daisy Oppen (left) who runs a stall in Coventry Retail Market - Daisy's Fine Foods - making a sale to regular customer Charles Hamilton. Picture: James Balfour
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Oct 14, 2006
Words:601
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