Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Bitter Crunch

I love goya (bitter melon; Momordica charantia) for its flavor and crunchiness; no matter how much it is cooked (or frozen!) it keeps that crunch. You can diminish the bitterness, if you wish, though I don't see the point, just eat a bland cucumber or something. But the goya, even at extremes of cooking, provides beautiful little bitter-crunchy emerald nuggets in everything you cuisinate; its range of astringency and special mouthfeely, delight-filled crunchiness has no cuisinal parallel that I know of. Did I mention the crunch?

 Another great thing about goya, as a tender viny plant, is the wall of feathery green leaves that grow on my high net fence (keeps out all deer, most wild pigs and no monkeys). By this time of year that emerald wall is dotted with the 1- inch banana-yellow goya blossoms about a foot or so from each other, that reach out at the end of long, slender, springy stems of pale green.

From my kitchen window on a sunny day I can see the yellow pretties nodding down to invisibility when even a small pollinator lands on them; then they spring back up, ready again immediately as the visitor moves on to another nodding blossom, the whole yellow-dotted green wall flashing yellow polka dots like a stage show, which in a wild way it is-- pleasant and relaxing to watch all those nods of acceptance, all those goya being generated.

It wasn't all roses, though. This year in late Spring I planted four goya plants along the northern side of my garden, but the season started out so cold and sunless and delugey that the goya languished in the cold and rain through July and even into August. They were the picture of rainy forlorn out there, all shivery and dripping under gloomy heavens. They half-heartedly put out a few token flowers just to keep their roots in the game, but as Spring tended toward Ark-building time (did Noah take plants?) it seemed more and more just a matter of time before the goya cashed in (Goya chips, mmmm!).

But then for some reason it started to get sunny, of all things, and when those goya hit they really hit. Within days there were a dozen ready-sized goya dangling, ready to go, with a couple dozen more little ones hanging around looking to generate some joy. Another truly great (but globally unappreciated) quality of goya is that monkeys hate them. Which moves them ever closer to my heart. Their vines now cover my 20m2 north garden wall with leaves and fruit that few bugs and no critters like. A healthy, productive, versatile and delicious plant is the goya. Can't get better than that. Plant some!

 Plus, they're crunchy.


Deb said...

Nice Post Bob, I'm not sure I could grow them here but I might try. But you left me wondering one thing. Are they crunchy?

Robert Brady said...

My apologies Deb; in my enthusiasm I overlooked the key quality - to me - of goya, apart from their unique bitterness: their unique other quality, the one you mention. Can't imagine how I missed mentioning that. And by the way, they're crunchy, too.

marianne said...

I haven't commented in a long time, Bob. But I'm still a frequent visitor. Your words are always colorfully full of life. One can taste your words! When so many of my long time favorite blogs have ended, I am so grateful for yours! Thank you!

Robert Brady said...

Thanks for the visit and the kind words, Marianne; makes it a pleasure to keep posting!