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Food For Thought I Ate a Biwa
(Entered May. 29, 2009)
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You probably know them as those funny little orange things you sometimes see in the fruit section of your supermarket, but never buy because a) they're usually ridiculously expensive and b) you don't trust them. If they were any good you'd have tried them already in your home country right? What are they? The name on the package says ’biwa', and a quick dictionary check translates that to 'loquat'. Loquat might be fun to say, but it doesn't inspire much confidence...
Anyway trolling the supermarket the other day, I came upon a package of biwa for the low price of 398 yen. Paying 50 yen for a fruit that's only slightly bigger than a grape may not seem like a deal, but considering that a pack of 8 is usually something like 680 yen, I decided to grit my teeth and just go for it as I'm tired of people shaking their head in disbelief when meeting the man that's lived in Japan for 9 years without ever trying one of these things. After this I can safely prove my Japanese cultural-ness at that next social event by playing the 'I ate a biwa' card.

biwa loquat package

To me, biwa look a lot like those Japanese persimmons (called kaki) which I don't really like, so my expectations were low. However it was a classic case of judging a book by its cover. Although they may look hard, dry, and tasteless, they turned out to be pretty good! Biwa taste kind of like pears and have the same consistency, but are slightly tarter, lighter and less juicy.

At first I wasn't sure how to eat a biwa, so I brought out my knife and cutting board and prepared to hack them up in a way that ensured the most pleasing taste.

biwa loquat

But it turned out they don't need any cutting. If they're ripe, the skin can be pulled off easily with no mess and little fuss. Just nibble away at the fruit, but don't accidently swallow too many of those big brown seeds inside as they're poisonous.

If you're like me, you can have a great time imagining that you're eating orange grapes.

biwa loquat peeling

Other interestings tidbits?
-Apparently biwa are related to apples! (really? not pears or grapes?)
-Wanna be sedated? Biwa have a calmative effect if you eat enough of them, (not sure how many you need to eat though, anybody want to experiment?) and have the added bonus of being legal!
-Biwa are full of vitamins and minerals and are healthier than... um... a really healthy thing.

Another cultural milestone surpassed!



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