Monday, June 02, 2008

On Fruits


Sunday I had two new fruits to try. I started with the Rambutan, which I had seen in large quantities while in Thailand but did not try there. The name comes from the Malay word rambut, which means "hairs." It seems a fitting name as the outside of the fruit is covered with stringy hairs. It is a pretty strange looking fruit.

To open, I sliced in half the fruit in half with a knife and you can see the interior of the fruit from the picture in the top right. Each fruit has one large seed inside and you can squeeze the outside to "pop" it out. Don't eat the seed uncooked, it is mildly poisonous according to Wikipedia.

The flesh of the fruit is a milky, but largely transparent, white color and has a consistency that made me think of jello. The fruit itself had a fairly mild but sweet taste. An enjoyable tropical treat for a hot day (which we have had plenty of lately - the heat index is usually in the high 90s during the daytime).


Dragonfruit, known locally as 火龙果 (fire dragon fruit), is the fruit of a number of species of cacti and native to Mexico and Central and South America according to Wikipedia. The fruit has also developed a big following here in Asia and is grown in many countries as well as locally here in southern China.

The fruit has an interesting color, sort of a mixture of red and purple tones and a soft, fleshy skin. When cut open, the fruit flesh is white with numerous black seeds. Despite its unique colors and look, the fruit actually has a very mild and somewhat bland taste.

At many of the restaurants here you will often get a plate of mixed fruit delivered to the table for dessert and dragonfruit is usually among them.

Lychee vs. Litchi

Though not a new fruit to many people, I wanted to share something a Chinese friend recently told me about the spelling of the fruit. I've seen it spelled both ways and wondered why. Apparently it comes from the difference in the name of the fruit in Cantonese versus Mandarin. Lychee being the romanized spelling of the Cantonese name and Litchi, the Mandarin version. Either spelling seems to be acceptable in English.

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