Sunday, August 30, 2009

Loquat, Winter Melon & Sapote

In Loquat and Medicine (one of the most popular nature posts)I wrote:
“A good friend who read my book The Cockroach Catcher said she wished I had written a lot more about the village. As a result of modernization, in one generation we have seen the passing of something that provided us with a uniquely enchanting experience that no modern developments with their charming “cool” shops can ever hope to match.

“Are we being over-romantic to ignore the hardship many of us put up with during that period, not to mention the struggles of many of our parents to provide for us? Have we forgotten the leaking roof, the rudimentary toilet facilities and our constant battle with cockroaches and other pests, not to mention poisonous snakes and the like?

“I have to say that on balance, it was still a sweet memory. Who can fail to remember the constant supply of fresh fruits and vegetables from our own land? The chickens we reared and their eggs were just out of this world. I have conversed with a few friends and relatives about this, and they all seem to agree.”

Pineapples in Panama Market ©2009 Am Ang Zhang

Would it therefore surprise anyone that in my travels I am always on the look out for that bygone age? Of markets that no longer exist in the “FIRST” world? Of places where fruit and vegetables are locally grown and indeed piled high and sold fast? My recent visit to the farmers’ market in Panama City was a real pleasure.

Winter melons in Panama Market ©2009 Am Ang Zhang

Seeing the winter melons brought back memories of childhood. My mother often used winter melon and salted daikon to make a simple soup. This is a favourite Teochiu soup for the hot summer months and is also reckoned to be good for heat stroke. The physiological principle must indeed be similar to that of ORT, but it has the advantage of not needing any added sugar.

Water melon is also used to prepare an elaborate dish called “water melon vessel”, which continues to feature in major Chinese banquets. To prepare this dish, first cut off the top of the water melon and retain this as the lid. Then scoop out the centre of the melon and the shell serves as a container in which to steam the ingredients. The ingredients include: water melon cubes, prawns or crabmeat, pork, mushrooms etc. The secret is the stock, which has to be made with the best chicken and Yunnan ham. The closed water melon with all the ingredients inside has to be steamed for several hours, but the result is a soup to die for!

The surprise of the visit is the discovery of a fruit hitherto unknown to me. It is not pretty to look at but the flesh inside has such a lovely orange colour, in fact not all that different to the colour of loquat.

The fruit is called Sapote (Pouteria sapota)

Fruit of Pouteria sapota ©2009 Am Ang Zhang
The flavour is delicate and quite unique. No wonder they used it in ice-cream.

Fruit of Pouteria sabota opened up ©2009 Am Ang Zhang

Given its colour its health value must be at least as good as that of loquat. For me it was just nice to be trying something different.

Grand Rounds: Sept 1 Vol 5 No 50 Medicine & Technology

Related Posts:

Ancient Remedy: Modern Outlook

Loquat and Medicine

The Cockroach Catcher and Pompano

1 comment:

katty said...

Oh, this blog is really amazing!!! it catched my attention since the first time that i saw it and i must to say i spend a great time reading, because i usually like to discover new things. Really nice blog. I Love melon because it is a fruit that nourishes and hydrates the skin. So if you want to see the best benefits is better to consume frequently.
the melon is a great alternative when you are doing diet, because melon can help you to get the weight that you want.

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