Last month I was on the hunt for a fruit that started with the letter I, having recently been a little obsessed with acquiring a fruit for every letter of the alphabet. I already have X, Q and Z, so not having a fruit starting with the very popular letter I was a little frustrating. At the time I happened to be emailing back and forth with a local San Diego farmer from Encanto Farms who specializes in Figs and Bananas. He has over 500 figs and over 100 banana varieties. So I asked him if he had any that started with I. To my shock and delight, he had an Ice Cream Bean Fruit (neither a fig nor a banana hilariously). I couldn’t believe it. I scheduled a time with him, packed my family in to the car and headed out on a Saturday.

His last email to me said this:

“You will be surprised, when you arrive at the ‘World’s premiere Nano-nursery’ in the middle of the ghetto. I’ll be in the jungle.”

He wasn’t joking. It was a kooky little jungle smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood in San Diego. I loved it immediately. Not because I grow things or want a jungle of my own, I’m way too terrified of bugs and worms for that. But because it was so delightfully packed to the brim with focused and eccentric passion and care. It was absolutely spectacular!

Sometimes I catch myself going through life so annoyed with people – aggravated that the person I’m interacting with isn’t being more thoughtful or kind or attentive to whatever it is I think I deserve at that moment. And then I meet people like Jon at Encanto Farms and I am reminded that people are SO COOL and are into the most amazing things. I promise you, the person next to you is into something spectacular that you may or may not know about. The challenge is often to draw it out of people. I can be a little awkward in new social situations so he probably didn’t realize how thrilled I was to meet him and be there at his jungle oasis, but I WAS. I really was. I mean look at that Ice Cream Bean Fruit – so weird. So fantastical*. Have I mentioned lately that I love my hobbies?

*New Year’s resolution to make up more goofy words.

Ice Cream Bean Fruit

APPEARANCE Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

6-12 inch long greenish-yellow, lumpy pods with white fuzz inside surrounding 5-10 black sprouted beans.

AROMA Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Raw peas.

TEXTURE Rating: ★★★☆☆

Peel has a fuzzy canvas texture to it (I did not eat this part), while the inside is full of big soft black seeds surrounded by fluffy and very moist cotton strands that mush together in your mouth.

TASTE Rating: ★★★★☆

It pretty much tastes like a low-key simple syrup. Plain, sweet, sugar flavor.

OVERALL Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆

Eating this fruit is like saturating a cotton ball in sugar water and then sucking on it. Neat I suppose, but not particularly appealing or practical unless you are starving in the wild in which case this would be a spectacular discovery.

Ice Cream Bean
Intermittent year round
Encanto Farms
San Diego, California