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Giant Flaming Pink Cactus Pears

August 02, 2000|DAVID KARP

At farmers markets, ceremonial proclamations trumpet the summer bounty of fruits and vegetables: The California Federation of Certified Farmers Markets celebrates August as Certified Farmers Market Month, and Dan Glickman, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has declared this week National Farmers Market Week.

Modest-sized markets, like the one at Hermosa Beach, really flourish in this season. Situated along the city's pleasant Green Belt, the market celebrated its 10th anniversary last month.

Last Friday Jim Weiss displayed half a dozen ultra-exotic pitahayas, giant flaming pink spineless cactus pears native to Central America, (though they're most commonly grown in Southeast Asia, where they're known as "dragon fruit"). The flavor is mild, a bit like watermelon--but what a spectacular appearance! For home gardeners, Weiss brought pitahaya cactuses, which thrive in coastal areas, from his Torrance growing grounds. He also sold tender asparagus and Big Heart artichokes from Green Farms of Lompoc.

Rui Shimomura had several Japanese specialties grown in Orange County: low-acid Momotaro tomatoes, slender, seedless cucumbers and white-fleshed Japanese sweet potatoes.

From north San Diego County, the Yatsukochi stand brought white corn, okra, tomatoes, summer squash and peak-quality melons: classic watermelons, dark red, sweet and crunchy inside; and honeyloupes, honeydew-cantaloupe hybrids with smooth beige rinds and sugary yellow-orange flesh; these sold out fast.

Harry's Berries of Oxnard had edamame (fresh soy beans), yellow wax beans, fine haricots verts, raspberries and delicious strawberry juice.

Scatttaglia Farms of Littlerock, the largest grower of stone fruit in Southern California, displayed Red Diamond nectarines and Elegant Lady peaches, two standard commercial varieties, bearing supermarket stickers, though they offered good flavor.

From Clovis, near Fresno, the Verni-Siracusa stand sold the season's first Gala apples and pale greenish-yellow, spicy-crunchy Ginger Golds--a variety developed, oddly enough, from a seedling found in a Virginian orchard of red-skinned Winesaps.

*

Hermosa Beach farmers market, Valley Drive between 8th and 10th streets, Fridays noon to 4 p.m.

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