Capping off our Meals All Across China series, we come to fruits. While most of these fruits can be found at your typical Chinese street fruit vendor, different regions have different favorite fruits based on climate, geography and taste.
Yunnan’s favorite fruit is the Purple Mangosteen 山竹. The mangosteen looks nothing like a mango, as it has a tough purple outer shell that you have to peel away to get to the juicy white fruit on the inside. Mangosteen is sweet, sour and citrusy, usually grown on trees in tropical climates.
Anhui’s go to fruit is the pomegranate 石榴. As a increasingly popular fruit worldwide, the pomegranate was introduced in China during the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD) and symbolizes fertility. Once you break open the tough red outer shell, you can eat the juicy red seeds inside.
Guangdong’s favorite fruit is called Rambutan 红毛丹. The name rambutan comes from Malaysian and Indonesian languages meaning “hairy fruit.” Once you peel away the hair skin, the white fruit on the inside taste like a grape.
Taiwan’s signature fruit is called Shakya or Sugar Apple 释迦. Brought to Asia by Spanish traders, it’s Chinese name comes from its resemblence to Shakyamuni’s head (Buddha). This green conical fruit is high in energy and very sweet.
Ningbo’s favorite fruit is called the Chinese Bayberry 杨梅. This dark purple-red fruit is sweet and grows on a smaller evergreen tree often used as ornaments in parks and yards. The berries are often used in Baijiu to flavor it.
Northeast China 东北
Northeastern China’s favorite fruit is called Virgin Girl Fruit 姑娘果. This fruit is said to help relieve fevers and coughs. As it grows in the mountains, northeastern China is a hotbed for the Virgin Girl Fruit. Peel back the leafy covering and enjoy the sweet, organe fruit.
Shaanxi province’s siganture fruit is the Persimmon 柿子. This soft, deep orange fruit is incredibly sweet. The Persimmon is used in a lot of Chinese cooking and pastries. In fact, Shaanxi’s capital Xi’An 西安 is known for their Persimmon cakes 柿子饼.
Hainan’s favorite fruit is every foreigner’s least favorite fruit: Durian 榴莲. Hard and spiky on the outside, durian is extremely yellow, soft and sweet on the inside. Known for it’s distrinctive smell, durian is a fruit that most people either love or hate.
Guangxi’s favorite fruit is called Pitaya, or “Dragon Fruit” 火龙果. While the outside of the fruit looks like a fire-breathing dragon’s skin, hence the name, the inside is soft and white with little black seeds. The taste and texture is similar to a kiwi.
Fujian’s favorite fruit is called Longan 龙眼, which means “dragon’s eye.” The shell of the white fruit becomes bark-like and thing when ripened. After cracking through the shell, the sour fruit on the inside has a small seed in the middle that you shouldn’t eat.
Sichuan’s favorite fruit is called “Ugly Person Fruit” 丑八怪. Similar to the traditional orange, this fruit is a hybrid citrus. Originally from Japan, the “Ugly Person Fruit” looks like a tangerine on the outside with many wrinkles. The flavor is more sweet and intense than an orange.
Gansu province’s favorite fruit is called Ginseng Fruit 人参果. It is said the Ginseng fruit tastes like a mixture of honeydew and cucumber, resembling a melon pear. One farmer in China grew the fruit into baby shapes by forcing them to grow in special molds.
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