One of the dietary changes I’ve made in the past year or so is my breakfast. I’ve long been a cereal-eater, but I’ve moved from plain to cereal with dried berries to cereal with fresh berries. Usually blueberries—I’ve experimented with raspberries, which are okay but a bit tart for my taste, and blackberries, which are nice but awfully sizable and which I like slightly less than blue. The details aren’t that important.
What is important to this story is the fact that there has been a bit of a blueberry shortage over the past few weeks, at least locally. There was one day where I tried three separate grocery stores and didn’t find a single one. There was another time where the person in front of me at the checkout got the last carton, and another time where I got one of two cartons left in the store. It seems to be easier to find earlier in the day, but once again, I’m digressing into details that aren’t all that important. That’s twice in two paragraphs, which would be a problem if I weren’t so gosh-darn charming.
Enough. The actual start to this story is that I’ve been noticing during this blueberrypocalypse that my primary nearby grocery store has been filling the space where the blueberries usually are with their nearest available botanical relative: kumquats.
Clearly the store was trying to tell me that kumquats can be used in the same way as blueberries, and who am I to disbelieve my local Jewel, particularly when that Monopoly collect-and-win game is going on even though it doesn’t use any of the actual Monopoly properties and each grouping has between four and eight things you need to collect, and it’s really annoying in general (even though last year I won a $15 gift card) and I’ve drifted from the point again, haven’t I?
Here’s the point, I swear!
Yep, I just decided to use the kumquats as a cereal topping.
Did it work? Oh, holy fuck no.
I mean, first I had to Google “how to eat a kumquat,” because it’s not obvious—they’ve got a skin that looks like an orange’s that probably wouldn’t be edible.* (As it turns out, it is. To eat a kumquat, you literally just eat the kumquat. Many people have turned that into a Youtube video.)
I also had to Google “how to say kumquat without giggling like an eight-year-old.” Google provided no help there, which is why I’m back on Infoseek, the absolute best search engine 1997 had to offer.
Then it was time to sample the kumquat-topped cereal. I’d love to say that the brightness of the fruit offset the granolaness of the cereal, but that would require me to be able to speak, and I can’t yet. You see, as it turns out, kumquats are really really really sour.
So I don’t actually recommend eating kumquats on cereal, or (as I’m sure will cause great chagrin to the kumquat farmers of the world) anywhere else. But… I bet I could, and get it to stick.
I mean, they’re not really that bad, and I strongly suspect there are recipes that could or have been developed that cut the sourness down to an OK level. And they’re fruit, so they’re likely to be reasonably nutritious. And they’re in just the right level of consciousness to become a trendy, alternative health food—something most people have heard of but don’t think about on a regular basis, and may or may not have some vague idea of what they look like, and probably haven’t had much if ever.
They’re basically kale in, say, 2010.
Even better, really, because where kale has just the one “k” sound that makes it so unique and hilarious and memorable, kumquat has two. And, thanks to Netflix, #KumquatIsTheNewKale is a hashtag formatted in a perfectly attention-tracking way.
Plus, most humans aren’t really good at processing scientific information, so framing kumquats as a superfood won’t be hard. After all, they’ve got 208 micrograms of pantothenic acid! That’s a lot of micrograms. They’re selenium-free, and the peels have powerful essential oils, which are essential!
And have I mentioned the taste? It’s tolerable under certain circumstances!
And so on.
In fact, I’ve got nothing against kale or kumquats; being respectively a dark leafy green vegetable and a bright orange fruit both have good nutritional qualities and certainly better than, say, a Pop Tart. I merely mock kale’s trendiness, and suggest that if we must have trendy foods, kumquat would be a great next step, because it would make me happy to hear people say “kumquat” a lot.
* I may actually have had a kumquat before. When I was a kid, my grandparents lived in Florida in a retirement mobile home park. Lots of people had orange or grapefruit trees in their yards, but my grandparents had a kumquat tree. I don’t know why—they never used the fruit in baking or cooking or throwing at neighbors or anything. I do have some vague memory that one day we all tasted a kumquat. But I don’t have any memory of the taste or the process of eating it or anything like that. So, you know, whatever.