Strange fruits

These extraordinary wild fruits, harvested in the Zhejiang countryside, taste rather like pear or jujube, although of course they have proportionally less flesh to skin, to the skin seems thicker and more fibrous. The seeds form outside the fleshy fruit, as you can see in the pictures. Their Latin name is Hovenia Acerbis Lindl, which may be the same as Hovenia Dulcis, the oriental raising tree – see this Wikipedia entry. In Chinese, theyare called guai zao(拐枣), whose literal translation is apposite and charming: jujubes turning corners! A perfect description of their sweet, jujube-like flavour and strange, angular construction. I think they look like dancing horses or underfloor plumbing. According to Wikipedia, they taste like raisins when dried.

5 Responses to “Strange fruits”

  1. JEM

    Yet another extraordinary Chinese revelation.

    I hope you don’t mind if I hijack these fruit as the thing that first attracted me to your books was a finding a recipe for Sichuan hotpot. Unfortunately (! as your other hundreds of recipes are a complete revolution to my cooking) what I was really looking for was a recipe for Dry Hot Pot, which I think they call Má là xiāng guō. I’ve trawled all over the ‘net, and there isn’t a recipe at all for it that I can find. Have you, please, a recipe that you’re prepared to share.

    I’m trying to recreate this as I enjoyed it at Crystal China on Tower Bridge Road: they’ve no English menu for it but the entire restaurant was eating it (everybody was Chinese) so we felt we had to try it.

  2. Lilly

    I was so pleasantly surprised when I saw these pictures on your blog. I used to eat this fruit when I was a kid. It was sweet and juicy. As a matter of fact, the street I grew up in Chengdu was named after this plant, it was called Guaizao Shu. When I told people the name of my street, they were always puzzled. I guess it was odd for them because many people didn’t have a clue what Guaizao was.
    Thank you for posting this entry. It brings back some nice memories.

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