Beauty deprived of its proper foils and adjuncts ceases to be enjoyed as beauty, just as light deprived of all shadows ceases to be enjoyed as light.
...no other tropical fruit has been cast aside as much as these pretty rose apples have been. When I first laid eyes on these waxy, dainty, bell-shaped fruits ten years ago, I thought they were the most feminine-looking fruits I had ever seen.
Being an aesthete, I have always been drawn to these underappreciated tropical beauties. How can you possibly not be riveted to something as sinuous and beautiful as a rose apple?
But see, that is all the rose apple is. Pretty. Like the stereotypical pretty girl, the rose apple is lovely to look at, possessing a crispiness similar to a pear's texture; but, cursed with an insipid personality (or taste, as I should say) and an exterior so fragile that even the slightest mechanical trauma leaves its mark on her thin, rosy skin.
Sliced rose apples
In a world dominated by rough and tough spikey durians and rambutans, hard-shelled mangosteens, thick-rinded papayas and watermelons in the tropical fruit kingdom, the fragile and highly perishable rose apples are placed in the lowest pecking order, such that you will never see any farmer cultivating these for profit. Therefore, you will rarely find rose apples at the supermarkets or outside the tropical regions they grow in. Instead, rose apples are mostly found in the backyards of those who are fortunate enough to have a large plot of land to cultivate a rose apple tree.
Insipid beauties need to feel useful, to be more than a pretty face. So I came up with this rose apple spinach salad with feta cheese and thinly sliced onions. I have always wondered why rose apples are not used enough as bland ingredients always have the greatest potential for culinary experiments. Most people here simply eat these rose apples freshly picked from a tree with a sprinkling of salt.
For the dressing, based on a classic vinaigrette recipe, I gave it a Southeast Asian twist by coming up with calamansi vinaigrette using coconut sap vinegar instead of balsamic vinegar with raw honey as an emulsifier. Raw honey and coconut sap vinegar partner quite well, I might add.
I was disappointed with the outcome of this experiment. The spinach leaves did nothing to enhance the rose apples. Their textures just simply didn't come together the way good salads should. I did, however, like rose apples and feta cheese together. Initially, when I came up with this idea, I had arugula (rocket) leaves in mind. I regret not going with that original plan. Rose apples definitely would have paired much better with arugula. I won't be making this with spinach leaves again and will definitely remake these with arugula leaves.
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup feta cheese, cubed
6 pieces of rose apples, sliced
4-6 cups spinach leaves, washed
Toss ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle with calamansi vinaigrette.
Yield: 2/3 cup
1/2 tbsp raw honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp freshly squeezed calamansi juice
1/2 Tbsp coconut sap vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil,
Freshly ground pepper
1. Stir the honey and salt.
2. Whisk in the calmansi juice and vinegar, and when well blended start whisking in the oil by droplets to form a smooth emulsion. Season with pepper to taste.
3. Correct seasoning with pepper and calamansi.