Growing up, my mother often peeled and sliced kiwis for our special weekend breakfasts. She had them available at other times, but I mostly remember eating those bright green slices on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The fruit usually accompanied her famous blueberry muffins, my personal favorite! Of the muffin, I loved biting into a berry that was still hot and juicy. Of the kiwi, I loved the crunch of the inner ring of seeds and the complimentary but distinct sweetnesses between the flesh and the seeds.
Over the years I have grown to tolerate the skin on certain kiwi, and to eat less-ripe kiwi than the soft, juicy kiwi of my childhood. Sometimes the less-ripe kiwi is a crunchy delight, though it tickles my mouth more with that sticky-itchy feeling I get from eating too much pineapple in one sitting.
You may be able to imagine my surprise and delight to find an abundance of kiwi in the stores and markets in Sicily. Come to find out, Italy is the global leader in kiwi production. Italy has no shame in adopting new fruits and vegetables (ahem, history of the tomato please), and incorporating them so deeply in Italian food culture as to be a part of its food identity. Seriously, can we talk about Italian food without mentioning tomatoes? I think not.
I mean, I could go on and on about certain dishes, but if it is a comprehensive discussion, tomatoes are going to be covered…I digress.
The kiwis pictured above are flourishing in the four-cornered gazebo canopy of Armando’s mini-farm. He grows nearly every traditional Italian plant you could think of if you listed the first ten Italian plants to come to mind, and then he keeps birds, rabbits, beautiful ferns and luscious trees. One could mistake his grounds for a veritable utopia, especially when the fragrant wine he produces lulls you into submission. You submit yourself to the soft hum of insects working around you, the muted chirp of night birds, and the sparkling stars overhead, and just like that, you are one with the earth and lost forever to the innocence and magic of Armando’s garden.