Saturday, June 26, 2010

New fruits

You may remember me posting about mangosteens last month. When the Croakers were here, we were more adventurous in buying other tropical fruits.

These are lychees. Jemilla and Keegan have had lychee flavouring in desserts before, but this was their first time trying the fresh fruit.

They are native to China, and now cultivated in many parts of the world. The fruit has a pleasant floral taste and is very sweet, with a texture similar to grapes. Chinese people enjoy using the dried flesh in their tea as a sweetener in place of sugar. They also believe the lychee can relieve coughing and help tumours and enlargements of the glands.

Once peeled, they must be consumed very soon, as they discolour and spoil quickly.

This is called dragonfruit, or pitaya.

They are a type of cactus and a good source of Vitamin C. Supposedly they are sweet and crunchy, with a flavour that's like a cross between kiwi and pear. However, this one were quite bland, so I suspect it was overripe.
Isn't the colour gorgeous and intense?

This website has some great photos of the many varieties of dragonfruit as well as the following story.

The sensation surrounding this fabulous fruit can be attributed to a legend created by ingenious Asian marketers. According to the legend, the fruit was created thousands of years ago by fire-breathing dragons. During a battle when the dragon would breathe fire, the last thing to come out would be the fruit. After the dragon was slain, the fruit was collected and presented to the Emperor as a coveted treasure and indication of victory. The soldiers would then butcher the dragon and eat the flesh. It was believed that those who feasted on the flesh would be endowed with the strength and ferocity of the dragon and that they too would be coveted by the Emperor. It is written that the dragon’s flame originates deep within its body near the base of its tail. The meat from this part of the dragon was the most desirable and most sought after portion. Only the officers of each division would be privy to this cut of meat. The ancient Chinese called this cut the "jaina", which translates literally to “the sweetest and best tasting.” The jaina was treasured by all who were privileged enough to taste it, and it is believed that man’s thirst for the jaina is what led to the destruction and eventual extinction of all of the dragons.

1 comment:

  1. We like lychees -- the girls eat them by the kg! But I have never tried dragonfruit before.