Saturday, March 30, 2013

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Grapples and Meyer Lemons

     It could be argued that the topic of today’s post—fruit hybrids—is the most exotic food I’ve written about.  Hybrids by their nature are weird—the interbreeding of two (or more) different species to produce an entirely different offspring.
     Obviously, it’s not just plants that do this.  There are many examples of animal hybrids, some of which occur naturally, and others artificially, by the actions of humans.  With extremely rare exceptions, all of these cases are mixings between animals of the same genus, but different species.  And the resulting children, if males, are almost always sterile, while females sometimes are, sometimes not.  In some examples two different hybrid types are possible, based on which species was the mother and which the father.  A female horse/male donkey hybrid is called a mule, while a female donkey/male horse hybrid is a hinnie.  Typically the names given to the hybrids are simply combinations of part of both parent species’ names, in much the same way that tabloids sometimes refer to celebrity couples, such as “Brangelina” for Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie.  Sometimes the resulting name is kind of humorous.  But let’s get to a list of some animal hybrids.

Zebra plus horse produces a zorse.
Zebra and donkey produce a zonkey, (or donkra).
A bottlenose dolphin and false killer whale together make a wolphin.
The bobcat and lynx hybrid is a blynx.
Polar and grizzly bears make a grolar bear.
Camel and llama produce a cama.
An African serval cat plus an Asian leopard and a domestic house cat make an ashera.

     Lions, tigers, jaguars, and leopards can all interbreed, and make some interesting combinations.  Ligers (referenced in the “Napoleon Dynamite” movie) are the result of a female tiger and male lion, and are the largest type of big cat.  A female lion and male tiger make a tigon, or tiglon.  A jaguar/leopard mix is a jagulep.  Taking this further, a lion and jagulep mix becomes a lijagulep.  And I didn’t see it listed, but presumably a mix of all four big cats would result in a ligerjagulep.
     On a smaller scale, the mixing of a domestic cat and a serval (a small wild cat) produces a savannah, which reportedly often have doglike characteristics.  Savannahs are comfortable on leashes, and even play fetch.
     But the oddest animal example is a sheep/goat hybrid.  Bizarre because they’re not in the same genus.  However, in 2000 such a hybrid was produced, and unlike previous individuals, was not stillborn and survived.  It was referred to as The Toast of Botswana.  More disturbingly, the animal was nicknamed “Bemya,” which means “rapist” in the local language.  Despite its sterility, it became notorious for its overly enthusiastic attempts to mate with the other animals in its enclosure.  It had to be castrated to stop this.
     On to the fruit hybrids.  There are dozens of grape combos, which are especially prized by the wine industry for their different colors and flavors.  And here are some others.

A lime and a mandarin orange produce a blood lime.
A lemon and a grapefruit combine to make an imperial lemon.
Mix kumquats with key limes and you get a limequat.
A Siamese sweet pomello, a key mandarin orange, and a tangerine make a mandelo.
A peach, apricot, and plum hybrid is a peacotum.
Blackberries, raspberries, and loganberries combine to produce a boysenberry.
Ugli fruit is made from oranges, tangerines, and either a grapefruit or pomello.

     Finally, one blackberry hybrid has a comical name.  It’s the Marionberry, named for the county in which it was tested, and not to be confused with Marion “Bitch set me up” Barry, the former Washington, D.C. mayor who won reelection even after famously being caught smoking crack.
     Alas, I was unable to locate most of these.  I did find a grapple, whose tagline is, “Crunches like an apple.  Tastes like a grape.”  This isn’t technically a hybrid—it’s either a Fuji or Gala apple infused with natural and artificial Concord grape juice.  It was rather disappointing.  It didn’t taste bad, but it didn’t taste very different from a regular apple.  It was only slightly sweeter.  Not worth its high price.
     I did manage to buy a true hybrid, the Meyer lemon.  This is a combination of a lemon and either a mandarin or regular orange.  It’s unusual looking—it appears to be a small, slightly oval orange, while its inner flesh looks like an ordinary lemon.  As advertised it tasted like a sweeter lemon.  I had mine raw and by itself, but evidently it’s also very good for use in desserts.  So I can certainly recommend this one.
     I think if I ever become wealthy and diabolically insane I’d enjoy an isolated lair to myself, Island of Dr. Moreau-style, where I could try to develop my own hybrids.  It would be neat to see what could be produced.  Centaurs, griffins, or maybe even fruit/animal combos, like a literal Grape Ape, or a Fiona Apple.

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