Many readers outside China will have encountered the fruit known as 荔枝 (Mandarin lizhi, traditionally spelled lychee in English, along with several other similar variations) as a flavor in Asian desserts, or maybe in a juice or even liqueur. In Beijing you can buy them pretty readily at the right time of the year, which happens to include now. There are several varieties.
The other day I was at the nearby vegetable market, and stopped by a fruit stand to get some bananas. The woman tending the stand tried to sell me everything else she had, which was quite a selection: mangoes, papayas, dragon fruit, several kinds of pears and citrus, pineapples, and so on. She offered me a lizhi, and when she saw my hands were full, even peeled it for me. It was sweet and juicy, so I bought a few of them to take with me.
Here you see some whole on the stem, one half peeled, one completely peeled, and a peeled one opened up to show the seed. If you’ve never tasted one, it’s pretty hard to describe the flavor. Mostly sweet, though sometimes a little tart near the seed, with a flowery fragrant aftertaste.
This ends the educational portion of our program.