Many years ago, I visited a Polynesian market in New Zealand and bought some tubers that were called Tarua in the South Pacific Islands…similar but different (and larger) to the more common Taro (Colocasia esculenta). For a plant that supposedly originated from tropical lowland Malaysia, Taro is a surprisingly cold hardy plant making a nice edimental house plant that can be outside in the summer even in my cool climate! I took a Tarua tuber home and grew it as a house plant for some years. It is probably Xanthosoma sagittifolium, also known as Elephant Ears, and closely related to Taro and similarly quite hardy! See the pictures below.
Horseradish tree (Moringa oleifera) is one of 13 species in the genus Moringa from Africa. The genus name is derived from the Tamil word for drumstick, one of the alternative names in English, referring to the long immature pods which are used as a vegetable (I first came across it as an Indian vegetable on a market in Fiji in the early 90s where it was called horseradish tree). However, it has multiple uses also including leaves (as a protein rich vegetable), for its flowers, immature seeds, roasted or fried mature seeds (an oil is also extracted), roots (tastes like horseradish) and also seed sprouts! Different cultivars have been developed for different uses. There are other species which are also used, including Moringa stenopetala and M. ovalifolia.
Although it’s a tree that can grow to 12m tall, it can also be grown as a cut-and-come-again house plant, which is the way I’ve grown it (for the leaves) in my old office in Trondheim (see the album of pictures below)! In fact, it is also grown commercially as an annual.
One of the culinary highlights of the year is the annual Jicama (hee-ka-ma) meal….if you’ve never eaten yam beans or Jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus), you haven’t lived!
I grow this subtropical vegetable in my office, which only gets sunlight for maximum 1 hour a day which isn’t optimal conditions (they are usually grown in open fields), but being a climber originates in forests, so it tolerates shade. I grew it’s brother on-climbing Ahipa (Pachyrhizus ahipa) beside it, but that species didn’t produce much (perhaps it’s more sensitive to light?). I also didn’t think the taste was as good. Both species died down at the end of the year and I harvested the tubers in early January!
Jicama tubers are best eaten raw and are crispy and a little sweet. Being one of the lost crops of the Incas, much more popular in the Americas than in Europe, I served them sliced with a cooked quinoa mix – mixed home grown Quinoa and black-grained Henry quinoa from Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus), flavoured with chilis and lemony sanshō seeds (Zanthoxylum piperitum or Japanese pepper).
NB! Both species, Ahipa and Jicama are normally started from seed which I haven’t succeeded in growing myself!
Day Two: I didn’t eat it all yesterday, I needed a bit more, so I cooked up a third species quinoa, Fat Hen quinoa (Meldestokk quinoa), from the seed of one plant of Fat Hen or Lamb’s Quarters (Chenopodium album). It was added to yesterday’s to give a Three species quinoa and jicama salad (two pictures added)
While we’re on the subject of taro (Colocasia esculenta), I’m reminded that it can make an excellent edimental house plant which I put out in the garden in summer! The dark leaved cultivars such as Black Magic are particularly edimental!
Daina Binde from Latvia doesn’t drink coffee but has a nose for a coffee flower…as she discovered that my coffee plant was in flower, unnoticed by me, in the depths of my living room forest garden….
I thought it hadn’t flowered for about 4-5 years, but it must have done as it also had two berries!!
More about Coffea arabica “Malvik” here: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=3996