Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"I feel like a King (or Queen)!"

I went to the local market recently and bought some of my favourite fruit - see photo. You may now know it, the fruit is a rich dark red, very sensuous, and when you bite into its soft flesh, you immediately feel its sweetness and subtle flavours with a touch of sourness, difficult to describe, not quite rasberry, not quite strawberry and not quite cherry. At the centre is a stone like in a plum. But it's so special I feel like a king enjoying some rare exotic luxury. Do you know what it is? Yes, 'yangmei' in Chinese, proper name myrica rubra, and translated as Chinese strawberry or red bayberry, but I tell my friends, rightly or wrongly, that it's called arbutus. They often never heard of it, but my English friend says there is a traditional folk song called "My Love's an Arbutus".
Arbutus is native to China and has been grown for over 2000 years. Apart from eating it fresh, my grandmother used to soak them in 'baijiu' (strong liquor or spirits), and swore by it as a medicine for upset stomachs. Strongly recommended if you overeat during your holiday here!

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