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Two great documentaries about fruit are screening next week

Russ Parsons
The California Cook
Documentaries about Mas Masumoto and Frieda Caplan are screening in Southern California

Next week is going to be a good one for lovers of documentaries and fruit. No, that’s not a misprint.

“Fear No Fruit,” a film about Southern California fruit pioneer Frieda Caplan — you might know her as the kiwi queen — is playing at the Newport Beach Film Festival on Wednesday.

Caplan, who turns 92 this summer, is a legend among food purveyors for the company Frieda’s Inc. (formerly Frieda’s Finest) she runs with her daughters Karen and Jackie.

She got her start in the 1950s, selling the then-exotic brown mushroom. Then in 1962 she discovered the Chinese gooseberry and renamed it the kiwi fruit, eventually turning it into a marketing sensation and launching 1,000 nouvelle cuisine desserts.

Jicama, dragon fruit, spaghetti squash, “Champagne” grapes, seedless watermelons and habanero peppers are just a few of the exotics she has introduced.

The screening is at 12:45 p.m. at the Island Cinema, 999 Newport Center Drive, in Newport Beach. Tickets are $14 and include a post-film conversation with the indefatigable Caplan.

Also next week, a documentary about Central Valley peach grower/author Mas Masumoto and his family farm will be screening at the Japanese American National Museum as part of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

“Changing Season” documents the life of this busy second-generation farmer as he and daughter Nikiko negotiate the tricky businesses of family and farming in the 21st century.

Masumoto’s 1995 book “Epitaph for a Peach” described his feelings about taking over the farm from his own father and the struggle to keep the family tradition alive. It turned his Suncrest peach into a cult favorite, even winning it a place on Slow Food’s Ark of Taste.

He has written six other books, is a regular columnist for the Fresno and Sacramento Bee newspapers and serves on the National Council on the Arts.

Screenings of the documentary are at the museum, 100 N. Central Ave. in downtown Los Angeles, Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. and Wednesday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Also, Masumoto will be in conversation at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach on May 7 as part of the Future of Food series, discussing the joys and pains of being a family farmer. Tickets for that discussion will be $10, $8 for aquarium members.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1

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