Saturday, June 7, 2008


The tiny kumquat is the fruit which everybody has heard of but nobody has seen or eaten. The simultaneously exotic and humorous sounding name has given it an almost celebrity level status in the realm of strange food-stuffs in literature, radio, and television but it is nowhere to be seen in local stores and markets.

Within the past few years, after a lifetime of hearing the name, I learned that the kumquat is a small citrus relative so, somewhat accurately, I pictured an orange but on a miniature scale. Thinking more along the lines of a tangerine, I was surprised upon encountering the diminutive kumquat looking like a mad scientist's hybridization of an orange and a grape.

kumquat on the tree

I was afforded the great privilege of pulling one of these delicacies straight from the tree and devouring it on the spot. Unlike its cousins, the kumquat is meant to be eaten whole, skin and all. The skin of most citrus fruits smells incredible and this relative is no exception but, unlike citrus peel, the taste is not incredibly bitter and unpalatable. Perhaps its because the skin is so thin that the bitterness is masked but that lovely scent of citrus peel translates into an incredible tangy, orange-like taste. Combine that with the sweet and sour flesh inside and you have a huge taste sensation in a tiny package. Honestly, this is one of the most fantastic fruits I have ever tasted, so many flavors and so small... nature's perfect candy.

a kumquat in the hand

As luck would have it, we found a seed in one of the kumquats we picked so I'm currently trying to grow myself a tree. Maybe in five years or so I'll be able to again savor the sublime flavor of the kumquat.

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