Wednesday, November 07, 2007

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?


Blogger Cherry said...

I love the fruity snack sticks!

I think the little red appley thingys might be crabapples, and the green and brown "olives" are jujubes.

We can get both around these parts (California) pretty easily. It doesn't hurt that my husband is a member of the CA Rare Fruit Growers Society. Sounds geeky don't it? He loves his fruit!

6:22 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I agree with Cherry on the jujubes, but I'm not sure of defining the red fruit as crabapples, especially if they have a large central stone. Are they Surinam Cherries?

How disappointing to bite into an unripe persimmon . . ..

2:53 AM  
Blogger Stelle in Italia said...

i agree about the jujubes as well. all of the fruit looks like it was fun to see and learn a little about (even if you learned about the persimmon fruit in the wrong way!). how common were lychees? i would have loved to explore all of the fruit! lucky you!


7:49 AM  
Blogger rowena said...

Ditto all of the above on jujube, I've seen those and another smaller type last month at Festa delle Giuggiole in Veneto. They are delicious little snacks but I never went as far as using them in a recipe. Love all of the exotic fruits here!

11:03 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Wow, aren't you all the jujube experts! I always thought Jujubes were little gummy candies!

Hi Cherry, thanks for the identification! I dig the Rare Fruit Growers Society, it sounds cool to me.

Hi Christina, Surinam cherries, huh? I think Rowena has them growing outside her house in Hawaii.

Hi Jackie, You know I was hoping for lychees but didn't find any. I think they must have been out of season.

Hi Rowena, Wow, you are so in gamba when it comes to these local food fairs! I've got to get on the ball.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous ann said...

Wow! I thought jujubees were candy too! I need to find these. What a great trip you had Susan, and good for you for eating chicken feet. That's not something I would do, but Isaac swears by them.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

I love the way this fruit is shaped, without the stalk it would remind me a nice egg bun! I am so wary about fruits from the east after having a rather nasty experience with a durian. I've heard the new durians don't have any smell now...three cheers for genetic engineering! Oh, but I digress, I wanted to say that the apple thingie with hard crack caramel is making my mouth water!

3:32 AM  
Anonymous Ellie said...

Definitely jujube, but its more common to see the dried variety used in cooking in Chinese and Korean cuisine. In Chinese I believe the pronunciation is something like 'hongzao', and in Korean it is called 'daechu', and like wolfberries, its believed to have many health benefits and is used quite a bit in traditional medicine :)

4:34 PM  

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