What is this strange looking, teardrop shaped, bumpy orb? It can’t be edible, can it? I wonder if that’s what the first hunter-gatherers walking through the Southeast Asian tropical landscape said to themselves. Was it hunger or curiosity that drove them to find a way to open the firm outer skin and sink their teeth into the white orb of juicy, tropical flesh wrapped around the big, oblong seed?
This is a bowl of fresh lychees.
I remember my mom telling me she loved lychees when I was young, but I never “got it.” I only remember lychees from the local Chinese restaurant and they could not have been fresh.
Back in the 60’s fresh tropical fruit was available in the tropics, not suburban New Jersey.
Even now, when Mangosteens or Rambutan show up in the supermarkets in Reston, Virginia, they are nothing but an expensive tease. I’ve tried them. Sure. I have been known to plunk down insane amounts of money to slide into memories of tropical life.
But indulging in these exotic fruits is about the same as opening the trash can and throwing the money way. Lychees, Mangosteen or Rambutan don’t make it to the loading docks and palettes of the Northern Virginia supermarkets very well and they turn into something that is not at all simliar to the real thing. By the time they make it over the Pacific to the western hemisphere they are in horrible shape with no redeeming value at all.
I just checked the Wegman’s market website and fresh lychees are selling for $5.99/lb. right now. I just bought a pound and a half of fresh Rambutan which are basically lychee with hair and paid $1.44/lb. and the market I purchased them in is not known for low prices. If I bought the fruit on the side of the road on the way to Tela, I am sure it would have cost a fraction of the price.
But here in Central America, some of these tropical beauties are available. We also have Rambutan, the spiny looking fruit that is just like a lychee and looks like a prop from Jurassic Park and I think Mangosteen are available as well. None of these are indigenous to Central America, but over time they have made their way here and it makes me happy.
If you see these fruits in your local market, pick one up, ask the produce guy if you can try one just to get an idea of what it’s all about and then finish your shopping, get in your car, go home and book a trip to a tropical paradise somewhere so you can get a real taste of one of these odd-looking, but delicious fruits.
I will miss this stuff when I head back to the US, but there is no date for that yet, so I will continue to live the tropical life and eat beautiful fruit — oh and of course, corn tortillas!
Now, if they would just put an Apple store in the city so I could visit the Genius Bar. I’ve been living with months of very spotty internet connectivity with my MacBook and I can’t quite figure it out. The iOS devices stay happily connected, but writing a blog post on an iPad or iPhone is not my idea of fun, relaxing entertainment.