Mighty Life: Taste 1,000 Fruits, Longanberries

7th April 2009

I’m reading The Fruit Hunters, which is surprisingly fascinating. I’ve always been interested in fruit, but when this book pointed out that there were tens of thousands of varieties, I decided to add “Taste 1,000 fruits” to my life list. Isn’t that satisfyingly mythological?

A Thousand Nights of Sweetness
The Girl Who Tasted a Thousand Fruits
“Bring me one thousand fruits, and a toe from each of your virgins!”

Having grown up in California and traveled in Asia and Indonesia, I’ve already tasted a few hundred fruits (apple varieties alone will get you halfway there), but now I’m picking up interesting produce wherever I go.

These are Longan Berries, which I got on Clement St. in San Francisco. They’re native to Southern China, and are believed to help with relaxation.

They’re kind of like litchis. They have a thin, dry peel, and the interior has the texture of a peeled grape.

The taste is complex and sweet, a lot like a litchi. My friend gave a spot-on assessment of the lingering flavors when he said it reminded him of fresh paint, though not in an unpleasant way.

They’re called “dragon eyes” because, as you can see, they look like eyeballs.

There’s a lovely, smooth-shelled pit in the middle. According to Wikipedia, you can boil and eat the seeds, though I didn’t try that. I trust Wikipedia, but I’d be pissed if I accidentally poisoned myself on the word of some guy typing from his mom’s basement.

20 thoughts on “Mighty Life: Taste 1,000 Fruits, Longanberries

  1. nerr

    hi maggie! these are a lot in malaysia too, but i’ve never heard of boiling the pits and eating them!

  2. Cindy

    We live with my Thai Mother-in-law and sometimes she’ll bring these home from the Vietnamese grocery store. I love them. I also, always want to save the pits. I keep thinking I’d grow my own loganberries or turn the pits into beads for a necklace.

  3. Rebecca

    I discovered these while traveling in Vietnam a few years ago. I don’t remember the paint taste, but I LOVED their texture and sweetness. Delish!

  4. dgm

    Ooh, I love finding new fruits.

    If you’ve had kumquats and rejected them as too tart, give them another chance but eat ripe ones–they are awesome! A kumquat is like a reverse orange: the rind is sweet, the innerds a little tart. So. Good.
    Also, if you can get your hands on cherimoya, you might find it is the most delicious fruit you’ve ever tasted. That’s what happened to me.

  5. Beth

    Strangely enough, Loganberry Soda is a popular treat in Western New York, mostly in the Rochester area.

  6. Sam

    I’ll be curious to know how many of your fruits you get on Clement Street (a bunch, I bet). Have you had mamones? I ate them by the bag full in Costa Rica. If you go to Costa Rica you can also do a zip line and, you know, knock another thing off your list. I’m just saying.

  7. This Eclectic Life

    Never had “dragon’s eyes” before, but tasting like fresh paint doesn’t quite sell me on them. Eating 1,000 fruits…now I like that a lot. I like fruit, but I’d rather taste 1,000 pastries.

  8. Jessica

    Wow – you have non-existent pores. If I didn’t admire you so much I might have to hate you. Just sayin’.

    Plus – um – yes. They look like eyeballs. AAAUUUGGGHHH!!!!

  9. Ellen

    We simply call this fruit longan. You totally should tour in the Philippines. I think you can fill around 1/10th of your quota here. Think marang, durian, jackfruit, lanzones (much like longan), rattan fruit, anonas, atis (sweetsop), star apple, chico, guava, mabolo (literally, furry), etc.

  10. darcy

    This might be a stupid question, have you tried huckleberry yet?
    They are all over in North Idaho…
    You can come here and freeze your buns off or I could mail you some?! I am a mom and I’m not in the basement.

  11. tracylea

    brave brave girl. I’ve dissected a few eyeballs and with my sensitve throw up trigger and over active imagination I just can’t bring myself to eat them! i’m such a wimp.

  12. Faith

    I love those things! I can get them sometimes at the Asian grocery down the street from me. Must check back there soon — now you’ve got me wanting some. :)

  13. ensie

    I LOVE The Fruit Hunters! Such a great book. The saga of the banana? I’m on a quest to try ice cream bananas. I’ve been petitioning my local grocery store without luck so far.

  14. Misha

    in western new york, loganberry is a common soft drink — noncarbonated and kind of like sno cone flavoring, in a good way.

  15. Melisa

    There’s tons of these in Malaysia. I bet you’ve tried Durians too. I think I’m the only Malaysian that hasn’t! owhh the shameeeee.

  16. Nichole

    I spotted “The Fruit Hunters” at the library earlier this week, and I thought, “1,000 fruits!” It is surprisingly interesting, and now I want to go on a fruit expedition.

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