Husky cherries and sour Montreal farmers
These, my friends, are husk cherries. Didn't know about these little critters until this summer when we spotted them at a farmers' market in Montreal. I thought they were some sort of tomatillo until the seller took one, dehusked it in one firm snap, and popped the bugger in his mouth. The look of surprise on my face caused him to laugh and offer up a sample.
Unpeeled, it looks like a pallid grape with white veins. Taste is sort of nutty and semi-sweet, and the texture is similar to a tomatillo with hundreds of delicate little seeds that wedge their way into teeth crevasses you never knew existed.
Unfortunately, the farmer didn't speak English, and I don't speak French. When I asked what these novel little fruits were called, he turned to his female companion for an answer. She gave Tony and I a quick once-over, huffed and rolled her eyes. "Those are husk cherries, for God's sake!" she said in a thick French-Canadian accent. We got the feeling she wasn't so fond of explaining her wares to unworldly Americans, so we bought a pint and moved on.
I was thrilled to eat food indigenous to Montreal! It was only a few weeks later when I spotted the papery fruits at our own local farmers' market. We scooped up another pint, but they weren't as sweet or satisfying as the ones we bought while traveling in Canada.