Friday, August 26, 2005

Buddah Bombs

So, you may recall a recent farmers market adventure had by myself and Ms. Knit-Whit. We had a fun morning eyeing all the beautiful produce and gathering ingredients for pickling, of which I, unfortunately, did none.
Anyway, we have a large Southeast Asian population in the Twin Cities, and many of our local farmers are first generation Vietnamese or Hmong immigrants. As you can imagine, this makes for fabulous and varied ethnic produce shopping, as well as some thick accents.

As we were perusing the aisles, we kept coming upon baskets and bushels of these strange little round globe things on a vine, kind of a cross between grapes and grape tomatos, except bright green. They were just so beautiful and curious looking that I finally had to ask about them.

Me: "What are these anyway?"
Vendor: "they buttah bows."
Me: "what? buttah bows? what's that?"
Vendor: speaking slowly "Bud-dah....boughs"
Me: watching her lips move...."budah boughs?....hmmmwhat?"
Vendor: again patiently speaking slowly and emphatically mouthing the words as she speaks at me "bough-dah-boughs."

I'm sure I looked like a total idoit as I stared at her lips and mouthed the syllables along with her. By now I'm feeling really bad for bugging this dear woman and then not being able to understand her, and I'm starting to think maybe there isn't really any English translation and she's just being polite and humoring me.

Me: "Oh, well, ok then. "

KW and I shrug our shoulders at each other and move on to the next stand, only to discover more buddah bows. This vendor must have been privy to my stupid American moment next door, because she's watching me as I finally think to ask what these little things taste like.

Ding! ding! ding! ding!

I sense just the slightest bit of triumph in her attitude as she plucks off one of the balls and hands it to me to try.

I pop it in my mouth and chew.

First sense, the taste of cool and green and fresh with a slight 'pop' like you'd expect biting into a small tomato, only firmer. Chewing....chewing...hmmmm...tough skin that's not so good, plus now....as my taste buds shrivel and I adopt the yuck face and fight the urge to gack and spit..."it's BITTER".....

"OH!!!.....BITTER BALLS!!!!!"

By this time there are lots of petite brown people nodding and grinning at me, as if they're either happy for me for finally figuring it out, or celebrating the fact that I got what I deserved for being a pain in the ass.

Either way, I was gratefully enlightened. Even if my stomach did turn at the thought if it for two entire days.
bitter balls Apparently these little monsters must be popular, as everyone seemed to be selling them, but I just can't imagine ANYTHING tasting good with those in it. Why you'd want an entire bushel basketfull is beyond me....

From that point on, anytime we asked about something we didn't recognize:
"What is that? Is it bitter?"
"...oh, OK, but is it bitter?"
"It's bitter, right?"

Suprisingly, the answer was yes more often than not. I never realized there was a cusine so obsesed with bitter as a taste component.

BTW, if anyone wants to offer up a recipe utilizing these buddah bombs or any other bitter Asian produce item that is most assuredly avaliable at my local farmers market, I'm game to cook it up and give it a try, if only to prove to myself that there must be something enjoyable about it.

Comments:
Oh, wow! I live in a neighborhood with a large Vietnamese population but I have never seen those. I'd have been tempted to try them, too, as they are quite beautiful. Is that $10 for the whole basket? People must preserve them somehow, to but that many at once.
 
The whole scenario makes me giggle every time I think about it. Good times.
 
Yes, $10 for the whole basket. Although I sure can't imagine what you'd do with an entire basket full of those little evil balls. I'd swear they're toxic enough to make crystal meth out of or something.

They told me they're used in stir fry's or soup or something. It's hard to know for sure, since for the most part, only the kids speak enough English to carry on a conversation with stupid white girl me, and they all said they hadn't eaten them. Apparently bitter is a pre-1990's thing.
 
I just had to post because I love the photo with all of the textures and colors. Nice job!
 
Hi Beth
The photo is courtesy of my pal and shopping partner in crime over at Knit-Whit. Getting some good pics was actually one of the reasons she wanted to go to the farmers market!
 
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