Do you ever wonder how in the world people got the idea to eat a thing? Take butternut squash. These are enormous. Maybe 14 inches, nearly impenetrable skin that you have to peel. There is no peeling with this thing. You hack at it until it comes off in chunks, hopefully with not too much of the squash underneath. Then you have to cut it into smaller pieces (this stuff could be used as an adobe substitute), depending on how you are preparing it.
Then there’s artichokes. People love these! I’ve had the so-called hearts in salad, for me they are bitter and fibrous, tough. But I understand a popular way to eat them is to roast the whole choke in the oven till it is softened (?), then serve it with melted butter. You dip the fleshy end of the leaf into the butter and scrape it off with your teeth. When my mother told me this I laughed till I hurt.
Then there’s tropical fruit, like cherimoya or dragon fruit. I wonder how long people thought these were poisonous before they tried it and found out how good it really is. Except cherimoya seeds really are poisonous. So are apple seeds, they have arsenic. I guess a person would have to eat a lot at one time though to do any harm, but dogs that like apples (my husky-mix rescue dog Lily) can’t eat the seeds at all.
Did broccoli or cauliflower or cabbage just grow or were they cultivated? And how do they get that sulfuric component that smells so bad when you steam them? Brussells sprouts are really pretty growing on their stalk but who found these? Were they found in Belgium?
(not my photo)
So I guess I could do research on what plants are indigenous to where and how they came to be, but just look at all the foods in the produce section sometime– star fruit, ugli fruit (like an orange but it looks like a fruit gone very bad), acorn squash which actually does look like a huge acorn without the cap.
Aside from vegetables fish and seafood are another whole area that must have been strange to learn how to eat. I still cannot bring myself to try eel, and octopus I understand just gets bigger in your mouth the more you chew it. Shrimp? If I’d seen this thing alive swimming I doubt I’d have ever tried one. Squid (calimari) is probably fried to the point that whatever is chewy is just completely broken down and it is edible. But lobster? Crabs? Someone must have had to be very hungry to get around those claws the first few times, then found (to some) it is such a delicacy. But puffer fish. Guess you have to be pretty brave to go after that one. Clams, oysters, mussels — thankfully a genius discovered steam would open these, except with some effort and (now) the proper knife oysters aren’t such a problem. Unless there is no “r” in the month you eat them.
The trial-and-error thing early people had to use to find what foods they could eat and what foods would kill them must have been terrifying.
Thank goodness somebody got brave and ate a tomato.