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.