Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hong Mei

How do you describe a fruit not grown locally, rarely available, that has a short shelf-life much less harvest period, and doesn't have a local counterpart? Berry-like, with dark red fruit, and exterior that looks like bumps which turns out to be rods protruding from the pit, lightly tart, juicy. The flavor has been compared to strawberries, cherries, but I don't think they fit. Texture is more like raspberries, no aroma, it's all in the tart flavor and juiciness. Ah well. That's hong mei for you. Hard to pin down.

I was visiting my parents and saw a bowl of the dark, blood red globes, my eyes lit up and instead of turning down dinner, I decided to corner the bowl for myself. My father had found a vendor in Binondo selling them and knowing how rare it was to find the fruit, bought a few boxes. My mother had never had them before so he gifted a box to her. She ate a lot last night, she told me. I haven't seen hong mei since I lived in China, so this was a treat! I ate four before I gave the bowl back to my dad. But he promised to buy me a box when he went back into the maze of Manila's chinatown. In the meantime, I'll savor the 3 pieces my mom put into my bag before I left. My hongmei baon.


Katrina said...

I've never even heard of hong mei, how intriguing! Is it common in China?

mtan said...

Yes, it's seasonal, the ones my dad found were large and perfect. I'm hoping I can find the vendor he found them at soon.

Achilles said...

If you are my age. you will remember that apples were rare in the Philippines during the late 70's and after that decade tons of Apples,grapes and strawberries are now sold all over Pinas.

Economy really changed.

mtan said...

hi achilles, yes I do remember scarcity of certain fruits in the 70's - apples, oranges, grapes, pears. Since they're imported, they'd cost an arm and a leg, plus they'd only be available selective times of the year. Globalization is quite amazing in that way. I'm just glad we can avail of fruits, especially rare gems like the hong mei.

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