One of the advantages of staying home during the holidays is being able to meet childhood friends who are visiting from out of town. Even better is when they come bearing seasonal food gifts. To open the door and be handed a brown bag (they know I don’t subscribe to plastic bags!) filled with a generous bunch of plump pink litchis is the best gift for someone who appreciates beautiful produce.The stalks were neatly tied together with the traditional sanal kayiru which accentuated the prettiness of the fruit and the fresh leaves. It looked so good that they just had to be photographed before tasting.
However I hadn’t thought to mention my intentions to my house guest because when I turned to get my camera she had already pulled one litchi off the stalk and was in the midst of peeling it. We looked at each other,the many years of friendship needed no words and the photo turned out to be a memory of that funny moment which makes me smile now even as I write this.
The photo shoot done, we sat down,the basket of litchis between us on the table and the next few minutes spent in peeling and eating .I went on and on at how juicy and delicious these were and she listened before nonchalantly adding,”you do know that your local supermarket has some fabulous litchis?!”
Some habits are hard to break (face in palm).After years of being used to friends hand carrying fresh fruit grown around their home towns I had forgotten for a brief instant that our neighbourhood grocers are doing a stellar job these days of sourcing fresh fruit and vegetables from other parts of our country.So, yaay the litchis are in season and let’s make the best of it when we can.
The litchi belongs to the soapberry family and is the only one of it’s kind (meaning it’s the “only member of it’s genus”) Having it’s origins in China,it is now widely cultivated all across Asia and is well loved in desserts, cocktails and juices for it’s wonderful floral aroma and sweet taste.
Now for a bit of nutritional trivia on this fruit.Not only is it high on dietary fiber it contains Litchitannin A2, a compound that is said to have immense antiviral properties.It contains and prevents the spread of viruses like herpes, pox etc that are known to be virulent in the summer months. No surprise either that this ingredient is also high in Vitamin C much like other summer fruits. A single serving of litchi fruit is 1 cup which offers more than 100% of the daily requirement of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
A lot of parents worry over the fact that their children are picky with fruit. To be honest I didn’t like litchis when I was a kid either. But here’s the thing,I was always exposed to it. I’ve got to hand it to my elders for persevering. Seasonal fruits were offered to us throughout the year and if we didn’t eat it we weren’t exactly punished but neither was our hunger allowed to be satiated with a bag of chips.