Exotic Fruit from China
Disclaimer: I thought of calling this post "Strange Fruit" but since this is just a post about what seems exotic to me, I thought the reference to Billie Holiday's song about lynching in poor taste.
So, on to the flippant: isn't this fruit fun? It's a type of persimmon and I just love the turban-like shape of it. Sadly, when I cut one up to eat, I realized this is the type that must be super-ripe before they lose their awful, acrid taste and become really sweet. I just didn't stay long enough in China to be able to enjoy them. My utter ignorance of the Chinese language prevents me from telling you what this fruit is. I had no way of asking what they were or understanding any answer. I thought this fruit, found everywhere in Beijing in October were cherry-sized apples, but after buying some at a road-side stand and biting into one, I discovered they resemble nothing I've ever tasted. They're perfumy but too sour to eat out of hand, and at the center they have a rather large stone. If I weren't living out of a suitcase when I bought them, I'd have made some rockin' jam out of them for sure. These may not look too pretty but they are delicious! We had these pickled in a restaurant in Shanghai and on the English menu, they were called "Chinese olives". They were crisp, juicy and sweet-and-sour. Very nice!
And after my first run-in with the cherry-sized apple things in Beijing, I found people everywhere in Shanghai eating them on a stick coated in hard crack caramel. Here you see a tiny shop display (I swear the shop was narrower than a fat Western tourist) where they've skewered mandarin orange sections, cherry tomatoes, grapes, something-like-pineapple and especially those cherry-sized apple things all covered in caramel and sometimes rolled in sesame or walnut. The hard crack caramel coating would do wonders with the tartness of the cherry-apple things. Sounds great, no?