Friday, August 1, 2008

Still Life with Dragon Fruit


Dragon fruit with Phalaenopsis
©Beijing, China - 1 Aug, 2008

Welcome to the second installment of "Fun Fruit Friday" in Beijing. Yes, we are a little late today - but technically it is still Friday in many parts of the world and especially back home where we aim to regale our homies with culinary encounters both exotic and strange.

(Please see the post below for the epitome of strange culinary encounters).

Our featured fruit today is the Dragon Fruit - a very popular item on the fruit platter of any Chinese breakfast buffet where it is referred to as huǒ lóng guǒ.(火龍果/火龙果)

Trying to say that once, much less three times, elicits uncontrollable laughter from our Chinese hosts - and since the Chinese love a good laugh - we aim to please - huo long guo, huo long guo, huo long guo! Wait, I've been informed that I just said "your mother has dragon breath".

According to the venerable Wiki - dragon fruit comes from the cactus species of the genus Hylocereus - an epipytic vine native to Mexico, Central and South America; but adopted by southeast Asia as a fruit of their own. Look at the rind!

Speaking of Mexico. Dragon Fruit looks like it might have been the inspiration for those lovely surrealistic Mexican folk art flaming hearts - beloved by the likes of Frida Kahlo and often paired with Guadalupe (as they say in my old 'hood, in Guad we trust).

The fruit can weigh from 150-600 grams and the flesh, which is eaten raw, is mildly sweet and low in calories. Personally, I like my dragon fruit paired with a phalaenopsis for best results.

The skin is not eaten, and you can imagine why. The fruit may be converted into juice or wine; the flower can be eaten or steeped as tea.

Eating the fruit is often likened to eating kiwi fruit due to a prevalence of sesame-sized black, crunchy seeds found in the flesh of the fruit. I though the taste rather benign to be honest. Give me mangosteen anytime.

It is generally recommended that the dragon fruit be eaten chilled, for improved flavor. Or perhaps marinated for three weeks in rum -- that's what I'm thinking.

And, although the tiny seeds are eaten with the flesh, they are indigestible.

Warning Label: Ingestion of significant amounts of dragon fruit may result in a reddish discoloration of both urine and feces: a lasting reminder of your dragon fruit meal.
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