Sunday, June 17, 2012

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Aloe Vera

       I was very surprised when I realized that people eat aloe vera.  Like probably a lot of folks, I was under the impression that its only use was medicinal, in skin creams, sunblocks, etc.  (I'm reminded of the "Seinfeld" episode when Jerry talks about how aloe is the treatment for every possible skin affliction.)  But no, people also eat it.  Many evidently for the taste, as well as for other medical benefits it allegedly provides.
     But there it was, an aloe beverage, sitting in a bottle within a cooler at a Thai restaurant.  I immediately bought some.  It's appearance was strange--a clear liquid with many solid, gel-like chunks floating in it (I learned later that these were actually the pieces of aloe).  The odor was very citrus-y, in a good way.  The taste was very good--kind of a combination of citrus (again) and apple juice flavors.  The jelly-like pieces within were a little off-putting at first, but I quickly got past that, and finished the drink happily.
     A couple of years later, while looking for weird and/or repulsive foods at my local supermarket, I saw an odd long green leaf in the produce section.  There it was again, and fresh.  I actually broke my cooking embargo, and did it up, as per recipes I found online.  This entailed chopping up the leaf into one inch by one inch sized squares, boiling these pieces, and letting the results cool for an hour.  The water in the pot took on a distinct reddish tinge.  Many people just remove the leaf portions and drink the solution, but in addition to that I tried one of the gel chunks raw.  Sadly, both of these were awful.  Extremely bitter--I couldn't manage to finish much of either.
     On the plus side, the supermarket also had the aloe drink, so I had that for a second time.  This was refreshingly excellent once again.  (It's called Salutti, from JJ Martin distributing, originally made in South Korea, for anyone interested.)  So, to sum up, when it comes to aloe vera--leaf bad, drink very good.  Although to be fair, it's entirely possible that I got a bad leaf, or messed up in the preparation, so there's that.  Also, while the drink does contain actual aloe vera, it also has fructose, citric acid, sugar, etc., which may explain (or at least partially explain) why I enjoyed it in beverage form.
     Finally, it may be a coincidence, but afterwards I noticed that my esophagus has never looked so smooth and shiny.

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