If I make a statement like, “The Chinese really like dragons,” I don’t think I’m being a promoter of stereotypes. I’m sure there are people here who don’t care one way or the other about mythical flying lizards, but there’s no arguing the fact that dragon symbols are very common.
The basic Mandarin word I’ve learned for dragon is long, and it shows up in two interesting places. First is longxia, which means lobster. The xia part means shrimp, so there you have dragon shrimp – lobster!
Another long is the huolongguo, or dragon fruit. The non-dragon parts are huo (fire) and guo (fruit), so the English name is a pretty direct translation of the Chinese. “What is a dragon fruit?” you might ask. Well, I’ll show you.
You see them pretty commonly at fruit stands. Being a science fiction fan, my first thought is they look alien. From a more earthbound viewpoint, they maybe look a little cactus-y. which makes sense since they grow on a tree that resembles a cactus in many ways.
Apparently the plants are native to Mexico and Central America, but they seem to be more popular here than anyplace else I’ve been.
When you cut it open, the inside looks like this. It’s not too sweet and has a nice texture, a little slippery and firm enough to hold together on a fork if you’re not too rough. It shows up in fruit salads a lot. I like it a lot just in chunks.
Incidentally, this one fruit cost more than a whole bag of fresh vegetables at my neighborhood produce stand.
Photos by D.