They sat in a cardboard box in a greengrocers in Chinatown, beckoning me. Exotic, pink and green...unknown...exciting. Next to the indecipherable (Chinese?) characters, were scrawled the words "Dragon Fruit". Well, well. This we have to try. So I bought one and brought it home. How can you NOT want to try something called Dragon Fruit? I imagined a scarlet interior, peppery and fruity at once, something to match the hype of its exterior and its name. Isn't it fun to anticipate trying something you've never tasted before?
That said, I did some research before biting into this particular forbidden fruit. I didn't want to find out the hard way that - like rhubarb or blowfish - there are poisonous bits to be avoided.
Hylocereus undatus is a fruit that is grown in nearly all tropical climates these days, though it is said to originate in South America. In fact, eating it is about as simple as you would assume on looking at it: open it up and eat the inside, not the cool pink and green skin. It's in the cactus family and if you are interested in growing some dragon fruit in your own home, a simple Google search will take you to hundreds of sites willing to instruct you. For the decorative element alone, I would think it would be worth cultivating!
And the proof in the pudding? Well, it was...nice. Not at all dragon-y. In fact, I noticed in one place that an alternative name for the fruit is "strawberry pear" and this seems more appropriate than the dragon association. Inside, the texture is like a cross between a watery melon and a pear, but scattered with tiny crunchy seeds, like a kiwi. The taste is also fairly melon-like, in that it is bland. Bland, bland, bland and somewhat sweet. It was a nice texture and I'm glad to have tried it. However, my immediate thought was: this would be tasty with a nice sharp raspberry coulis. In fact, I think dragon fruit must be at its best when paired with other fruits. Its striking appearance would add panache to any dish and you could add the fruit to almost any other fruit combination without worrying about upsetting the balance of flavours. (Unless the rest of the dish was composed of porridge...but I digress into silliness...)
So there you have it. A virgin's experience with Dragon Fruit. Probably not as exciting reading as a virgin's experience with a real dragon (Did you know my namesake St. Margaret was cut from the belly of a dragon? And subsequently became the patron saint of childbirth? Lucky me!) but at least it's real, it's live and our friend David was the witness and participating guineau pig.