I must be pregnant. Lately it seems I can't get through the day without ingesting a wide variety of pickled things—jalapeños, kimchi, ramps, cauliflower, garlic, olives—pretty much anything except for cucumbers (but that's another story).
So I was delighted to discover these vaguely star-shaped fruits at PNA Oriental Store, the tiny Thai sundries outlet with an ever replenishing supply of prepared sweets and savories.* I stop by once a week and never fail to find something new to me.
Not for the first time, Friend of the Food Chain Leela over at SheSimmers, gave me the scoop on these Otaheite, or star gooseberries. Known as ma-yom in Thai, they are a super tart variety of gooseberry usually pickled or candied, but often eaten raw or even employed in som tam. Though it's thought to be native to Madagascar and has spread all over Asia, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, in Thailand Phyllanthus acidus has a special significance, as it is said to bring good luck to homes where it's planted.
The $3 package I bought at PNA comes with a handy set of toothpicks with which you and your fellow snackers can gig the little fruits and swipe them through the accompanying container of chile sugar. At first I didn't care for the yielding texture of the unpitted fruits, but gradually their unapologetic acidity began to answer my pucker lust.
PNA Oriental Store, 2310 W Leland, 773-784-1797
*PNA is now cash only