[kuwai (Japanese), ci gu (China), Sagittaria sagittifolia (Asian)] -
[Duck Poatao, Indian Potato, Broadleaf Arrowhead, Wapato
Sagittaria latifolia (North American)]
The Asian species of this acquatic plant is seasonably available in Asian markets in Los Angeles and elsewhere. The tubers can be eaten raw or cooked. They are bland and starchy much like potato but when cooked are somewhat crunchier than potato. The photo specimens were 2-1/4 inches diameter and weighed 3 ounces each. They do not keep well even refrigerated so should be cooked within a couple of days.
Boiled arrowhead tubers figure prominently in both Chinese and Japanese New Years celebrations. They can also be sliced and deep fried like potato chips.
The North American version is not sold commercially. It was at one time
eaten by the North American Indians but today is eaten mainly by beavers,
porcupines and muskrats.
Ginkgo - [Ginkgo biloba]
Dietary supplements made from extract of ginkgo leaves are thought to improve memory but this is controversial. The suplements are approved for treatment of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) in Germany. I took them for that purpose when I contracted that problem from a certain brand of Australian red wine, but I'm not sure if they helped or the problem went away on its own. What is known is that ginkgo improves circulation in small blood vesels, reduces clotting and contains strong antioxidants.
The seeds are used in a number of Asian dishes and highly esteemed there,
but should not be eaten by themselves in quantity over a long period of time
because they cause poisoning by MPN (4-methoxypyridoxine). In the quantities
called for by recipes and with the frequency such recipes are likely to be
used they are perfectly safe.
Pineapple [Ananas comosus]
The Pineapple is the only bromeliad familiar as food in North America. There are several patented varieties sold in the U.S. and plenty of lawsuits as to who owns what. Taken throughout the tropics by the Spanish and Portuguese, the largest production is now in China and Southeast Asia, though Hawaii and Costa Rica produce most sold fresh in the USA.
South American pineapples are green when ripe but some of the patented
varieties, particularly from Hawaii, are green and gold when ripe. Appearance
and smell are the indicators of ripeness, not thumping or pulling leaves,
and they do not ripen more once picked. Pineapples sold here in Southern
about 4 to 5 pounds. The photo specimen, a 4-1/2 pound fruit, yielded about
2-1/2 pounds (56%) when trimmed and cored. Chopped it's about 7-1/2 ounces