Festival gives visitors a taste of the Valley

FRESNO, Calif.

The event allowed people to taste many of the crops grown her as well as pick up some cooking tips.

The harvest of deep purple Japanese eggplant is in full swing in Fresno County. But Southeast Asian farmers want the public to know more about their crops like bittermelon, yu choy and sugar cane.

A sweet little fruit called jujube was a hit with the curious. Berta Houts of Fresno tried it and replied, "Oh its good. It's like a pear and an apple together and he says it increases appetite and it's good for headaches and stuff."

Pang Eng grows jujube but he's also been successful growing tropical fruits like papaya and guava inside a hoop house. Eng said, "Yeah they saw the picture. They don't believe it. They say I take picture in Thailand or Hawaii or someplace but we can grow it here."

Visitors lined up to see, smell and learn more about the various Asian vegetables they notice in the store and at farmers markets.

Dan Houts came for some dinner ideas. He said, "Heck yeah, vegetables are good for you. I'd love to learn how to cook the new ones."

This festival was designed for people like Dan Houts.

Organizer Tzexa Lee of Cherta Farms explained, "Some of them like to cook but they just don't know so we decided well, since we'll have them see the produce we'll teach them how to cook as well."

In addition to cooking demonstrations, booths served up papaya salad, allowing people to try something new and others to enjoy some comfort food.

The festival concludes Saturday at Manchester Center. It offers cooking demonstrations for Thai, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese and other dishes.

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