Common in South and Southeast Asia, these huge, spiky fruits can grow to be two feet long. While they may look similar to the notoriously smelly durian fruit, they are actually more closely related to figs and mulberries. When ripe, their flesh is sweet and slightly acidic, with a tropical aroma. Unripe jackfruit has become popular as a vegan alternative to pulled pork, due to its unique stringy texture.
A cultivar of wild cabbage, kohlrabi originated in Europe and has been eaten in Italy since the 16th century. The delightfully crisp vegetable looks similar to a turnip, but is actually a bulbous stem with a sweet taste and texture similar to those of a broccoli stem. Although it is sometimes eaten cooked, kohlrabi is best peeled and served raw in salads or lightly dressed as an appetizer.
Despite their deceiving name, sweetbreads are actually organ meats, and are rather savory. Most often the thymus or pancreas of a calf or lamb, sweetbreads have a rich, velvety, and sometimes juicy texture with only a slight hint of glandular flavor. Best fried to a crispy exterior, they are popular in French cuisine.
Native to the Andes and popular in Latin America, the cherimoya or custard apple has a firm, flan-like texture and a distinctive tropical flavor with hints of pineapple, banana, kiwi, and strawberry. Mark Twain called the cherimoya “the most delicious fruit known to men.”
With roots in North Africa and Europe, these subterranean tuber fungi were enjoyed in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Rome. Although they may not appear appetizing, their pungent, musky flavor is highly prized in French and Italian cuisine. The black variety is somewhat less aromatic, while white truffles have a very strong smell, sometimes compared to that of sweaty gym socks.
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