Bitter gourds have long been prized in Asia for a trait considered a defect in cucumbers: bitterness. We tend to believe that anything bitter is medicinal and, in this case, we could be correct. The bitter gourd is said to cure a wide range of ailments – from gastrointestinal conditions to cancers, and from diabetes to HIV. Also known as bitter melons, bitter gourds are pale green, with an irregular, warty surface. Typically, they are eaten following an initial treatment to remove some of the bitterness; often they are stuffed, to complement their somewhat eccentric bite.