Sunday, June 14, 2009


At Valli Produce yesterday there was a large bin of Lychees at $1.29 a pound. Patrons of Indian, Chinese, and other Asian backgrounds were circled around it, scooping the small red spiky fruits into plastic bags. I asked the group, "So, how do you eat these?" and immediately three people started explaining at once. One Indian gentleman demonstrated how you break into the peel at the stem end with your thumbnail, then work down the fruit splitting the stiff skin. The flesh is smooth, white, soft, translucent, and juicy. This is then popped into the mouth so your teeth can finish the job of removing the edible part. The other hint is "Don't bite on the seed, it is bitter." Each lychee has one large seed in its center, smooth, brown, and oblong.

A Chinese woman said that she had bought a few the day before to make sure they were good. They were sweet, so she had come back for more. At this point, even more people were crowded around the bin, and I was also scooping lychees into my plastic bag to try out.

The taste and texture resemble a peeled grape, but a bit more tropical and a lot easier to dismantle. I'd buy them again, and I'd recommend trying fresh lychees if your local produce store also has them in stock.

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