Tutti Frutti


The Chinese love their fruit and eat vast quantities. A platter of fresh peeled and sliced fruit is always served at the end of a Chinese meal, and no breakfast buffet would be complete without a huge selection being offered.

Apart from all the fruits we know and love, which are here in spades, there are all these other fruits available, some of which are totally unknown in the west.

Number one, and the big bruiser in the Chinese fruit market is the Durian It is mostly grown in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Twice the size of a pineapple, and covered with spikes it is instantly recognisable – in fact you could recognise it blindfolded because of it’s very distinctive smell.  Like Marmite, people either love it or loathe it (I fall into the latter category).

Singapore has made it illegal to carry durian on public transport, most SE Asian airlines ban it too, and in many other countries you are not permitted to take it into hotels, hospitals or any other public places. The pulp has a soft creamy consistency, and I would describe the taste/aroma as being like a rich, almondy custard flavoured with garlic and rotten onions being consumed over an open sewer.  The American food writer Anthony Bourdain (who professes to like eating durian) once described it thus: “Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.”

Then there are the Dragon Fruit, so exotically pretty and juicy, and yet – to my mind with no taste at all, and Rambutans, which are like a larger, sweeter Lichi but with a ‘hairy’ looking skin.

The purple Mangosteens are delicious  when you break
them open the white flesh has a peachy flavour and texture with a very slight note of citrusy sourness.

I was intrigued by the snakeskin-like peel of the Zalaccas, they are about the size and shape of a fig, and grow on a type of palm tree. They have the texture of an apple and a rather tart taste.

My absolute favourite of all the exotic fruit I’ve tried so far is the Yangmei

or Chinese Bayberry; they are the most gorgeous colour and taste like a strawberry/raspberry combo with a touch of tartness. Apparently they are rich in Vitamin C and help inhibit E-coli!

I love fruit, but obviously not to the same extent as the Chinese, it would never have occurred to me to produce (or eat) fruit flavoured potato crisps like the ones I have seen in supermarkets here. On behalf of you all I went out and bought two packets – one blueberry flavoured, and the other lime flavoured.  No, I can’t see these catching on in Sainsburys.

About herschelian

Recently moved to Beijing from London - its all new to me! Trying to learn Chinese, and what makes this city tick.
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2 Responses to Tutti Frutti

  1. Teuchter says:

    I had yangmei at a special meal one night – and loved them so much that the host felt compelled to order more for me. They made up for the stinky tofu and raw crab which were also served at the same meal.
    The etiquette of formal Chinese banquets is an absolute minefield!

    Another big favourite of mine is the apple-pear, a fruit which seems to have the best qualities of both parts of its name.
    We can now get them in the UK – but they’re not a patch on the ones I ate in Beijing.

  2. Pingback: Mooncakes by the million | JASMINE TEA & JIAOZI

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