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Ian_Lee

Lychee & Durian

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Ian_Lee

Every ten li a station swirling with dust, Every five li a post to urge couriers on; Men die like flies, their corpses line the road, So that lychees and longans may be delivered to court. Carriages race over hills, boats sweep through the seas, With new plucked fruit on fresh boughs, the leaves still dewy, All to win a smile from the beauty in the palace, Though it cost bloodshed and strife, and its effect remains for ever.

Extract from 'A Lament for Lychees'

by Song dynasty poet Su Shi (Su Dongpo) (1037–1101).

In another poem, our great scholar Su Dongpo sighed that he didn't mind his exile life in Guangdong if he could eat 300 pieces of Lychee each day!

Lychee is definitely a blessing from God to the Pearl River Delta Region. In no other places in the world can lychee be grown as fruitful and as sweet as those in Guangdong! (I have tried those grown in Thailand, Taiwan and US which are hardly comparable to those in Guangdong.)

Moreover, lychee seems to be the only crop that resists transplantation and mass production. (Kiwi, which originates in Sichuan, grows better in quality/quantity in New Zealand.) Lychee still adheres to the traditional rule that bumper crop only comes on the alternate year. And unlike Shanghai Crab which is now nurtured in every lake and deteriorates greatly in quality, so far lychee has not been overgrown and poisonous lychee which due to overuse of chemical fertilizer has not been heard (but there are poisonous longan though).

The first crop of lychee, which is the most sour, is called "a smile from the beauty in the palace" adopted from Su's poem. While the legendary best kind that is grown in Tseng Cheng, was left to half tree after lightning. But lately I heard it has been reproduced into dozen trees.

But why is lychee related to Durian?

They are both harvested in June and curiously classified as "Yang".

If you don't believe it, try gouging 3/4 of a durian or 2 catties of lychee -- you will definitely get sore throat overnight!

For Durian, I like the "Golden Pillow" variety. But I heard people in SE Asia prefers the bitter kind. And believe it or not, they say that the best way to suppress the "Yang" after over-eating Durian is to drink the water held by the Durian shell which is extremely "Yin"!

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akdn
And believe it or not, they say that the best way to suppress the "Yang" after over-eating Durian is to drink the water held by the Durian shell which is extremely "Yin"!

True. If you fill the shells with water and drink it, it will soothe your stomach after you've gorged yourself on durian.

The next thing to do is fill the shells with water again, and then use the water to wash your fingers. Much easier to get rid of the smell that way (but don't ask me why!).

In Indonesia I was always warned never to drink alcohol in the few hours after eating durian. I was told you could get seriously ill. Does anyone know if this is actually true?

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Ian_Lee

I have heard that those with heart disease should not eat Durian since it has a high fat content.

But Durian is also known to be increasing male libido.

Moreover, Durian is one of the rare fruits that is highly nutritous.

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tara
True. If you fill the shells with water and drink it, it will soothe your stomach after you've gorged yourself on durian.

The next thing to do is fill the shells with water again, and then use the water to wash your fingers. Much easier to get rid of the smell that way (but don't ask me why!).

Yup, my family practices that too.....but many times I can't be bothered coz I don't each that much anyway.

In Indonesia I was always warned never to drink alcohol in the few hours after eating durian. I was told you could get seriously ill. Does anyone know if this is actually true?

I have always been told by my grandma and dad about that since young.....I have never tried so don't really know whether its true.

I have heard that those with heart disease should not eat Durian since it has a high fat content.

Yup, I have heard that too....the same goes for high blood pressure and high cholestrol.

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confucius

The original Tang dynasty lychee orchards were north of Maoming, not in the Pearl River delta region. The village of Genzi is where the descendants of those trees can still be found.

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Ian_Lee

The gourmets will smile this year because lychee farmers have a bumper harvest.

It is as low as HK$3.5 per pound (about US$ 45 cents) in Hong Kong and are available at every street corner. The best variety -- that with small seed and chunky fruit -- is as sweet as usual.

I tried some lychee grown in Hainan whihc were imported to HK in early June. Its taste was awful.

In fact, in the resort town in Baden Baden of Germany, I found lychee in the grocery stall.

In famous Harrod Department Store in London, there is also lychee in the Exotic Food Section. Some told me they are grown in Madagascar.

But the best lychees are still grown in the Pearl River Delta.

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Quest

Welcome back Ian_Lee. I've had a few lychees just a couple days ago.

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skylee

How do you break open a lychee? Do you crack it with you teeth? (this is how my mom taught me, but then she said the shell was very dirty, which is probably why I refuse to eat lychee) Or is there another way?

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Claw

It's easy to break open lychee with your fingernails. After you break it open enough, you can probably pop the fruit out and into your mouth without your mouth ever touching the shell. And it's not really that dirty... it only feels dirty because the surface is rough.

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Quest
How do you break open a lychee? Do you crack it with you teeth? (this is how my mom taught me, but then she said the shell was very dirty, which is probably why I refuse to eat lychee) Or is there another way?

that's interesting, never seen someone eat lychee that way :mrgreen:

I always use finger nails to open it at the top, then peel down.

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Ian_Lee

But never eat lychee inside a theater where it was dark. The top part of lychee may have insect egg if it is rotten.

By the way, is lychee widely available outside Guangdong and HK/Macau in China? Over here, a lychee tree can yield over US$1,000 products per bumper crop season.

Recently a HK newspaper reported that a guy in Thailand with high blood pressure dropped dead after over-eating durian.

And another HK newspaper reported that doctors advised consumers to eat less lychee and should dip them in ice-water before eating.

Anybody ever get uncomfortable after eating these two extreme "hot" fruits?

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skylee
The top part of lychee may have insect egg

Now this is exactly what my mom said.

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Claw

Yeah, though it's really obvious if that happens. The top part will be discolored and it will taste really bad when you put it in your mouth. If you open a good lychee, it will be white.

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sunyata

LOL - why would you eat lychee in the dark?? :conf

There were a few times when I ate a lot of lychee in one sitting, but I was fine. Definitely felt the artieries expand though...

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Quest
Quote:

The top part of lychee may have insect egg

Now this is exactly what my mom said.

same thing, i just eat the lower part when I see eggs at top.

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Ian_Lee

But how come only lychee got such problem but longan don't have?

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chengdude
And unlike Shanghai Crab which is now nurtured in every lake and deteriorates greatly in quality, so far lychee has not been overgrown

It seems not:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/17/business/worldbusiness/17fruit.html

I recall reading some stories a year or two ago that Chinese apple growers have followed the same path and face the same consequences.

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Ian_Lee

Chengdude:

According to the NYT article, I am still half correct.

Even though lychee has been overgrown in Guangdong, its quality has not deteriorated as the Shanghai crab has been.

Moreover, since lychee is prone to decay within a relative short time after harvest, the produce has to be put into the market as soon as possible. That is a godsend to the gourmets in HK.

In this summer I have consumed more nuomici than I ever had. Moreover, it was damned cheap -- HK$6/lb.

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bhchao

Many Chinese believe that excessive consumption of lychees causes nosebleeds. Have there been actual cases, or is this just a myth?

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kinya

what about hong mao dan?

what do you guys think about the differences between Lychees and dragon eyes and hong mao dan.

seems like lychees and dragon eyes are pretty localized to china, but Hong mao dan are all over SE asia. Rambutan in indonesian and malaysian. :tong

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