Outside/In: Four Amazing Fruits That Shaped History
For months, producer Taylor Quimby has been trying to craft a story about spicy peppers. Every one of his pitches has been shot down…until now. On this episode of Outside/In, a culinary challenge in which four producers argue about which seed-bearing delicacy is the ABSOLUTE best.
To vote for the fruit YOU think was argued best, click here.
The Pepper (Capsicum)
Spicy, sweet, and fruity - Producer Taylor Quimby argues that the pepper’s versatility in and out of the kitchen make it “the best” fruit on the planet. The chemical compounds that make peppers taste spicy, capsaicinoids, are found in some topical pain-killers used to treat conditions like arthritis. Peppers also produce beautiful colors as they ripen - and are used to make natural food coloring, or sold as ornamental plants for holidays.
In just a few hundred years, peppers have traveled from their origins in the Americas and taken root in cuisines all over the world.
The Coconut (Cocos nucifera)
The coconut, as a portable source of water and life-giving crop, has helped humans migrate across vast distances of ocean. Producer Justine Paradis argues that the coconut is TRULY the most versatile fruit - or plant, anyway - as the various parts of the coconut and coconut tree can be used for everything from rope-making and thatched roofing, to first aid.
Coconuts are like the Swiss-army knife of fruits. They can and have been utilized for just about every human need you can think of…. not to mention, they’re delicious.
The Hardshell Gourd (Lagenaria siceraria)
Producer Felix Poon looks at another incredibly useful fruit - the hard-shelled gourd. Name a tool used by early civilizations - spoons, bowls, bottles, pipes - and chances are, it was carved from a hard-shelled gourd.
But among the most amazing items made from gourds are a dizzying array of musical instruments. From the original banjo, to the shekere and the berimbau, gourds have given shape to the spiritual sounds of freedom and revolution all over the world.
The Vanilla Bean (Vanilla planifolia)
The vanilla bean, host Sam Evans-Brown argues, produces a powerful flavor that humans are hard-wired to love. But it’s very existence is something of a biological miracle.
Vanilla beans come from an orchid, and the process by which they are cultivated is a particularly challenging one.
From the short window of time in which they need to be fertilized, to their exceptionally long ripening period, the vanilla flower and vanilla bean are precious commodities that we probably take for granted.