Ampalaya, or bitter melon, is beautiful: green, bumpy, and vaguely reptilian, like an embryonic dragon. True to its name, it’s profoundly bitter. When I was growing up, it definitely seemed like food for adults. Still, I had fun preparing it, running my fingers over its rough Braille, cutting it in half lengthwise and then scooping out the white pith and seeds, or shaving it super-thin on a mandoline and adding salt to make a pickle.
It was Chinese