October 28, 2018
Oh, you read that city name right. Enjoy this #farmstand5 from Zhangjiajie!
(close enough prounounciation “jong-jya-jyay”)
Across time and time zones, farmstand culture highlights how small farm stands and farmers markets are a cohesive force in communities. Whether you’re south of Boston in Cape Cod or in the shadows of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, there are neighborhood growers with small stands and fresh, local produce. When you visit these farm stands, you get a better sense of the people and the culture of the place.
Thanks to my cousin’s recent trip to China, we can enjoy the absolutely stunning photos of offerings at the Biao Zhi Men market stands. I owe her a big “thank you” for being so thoughtful, to take the time out of her vacation to give us beautiful images and insight into the variety offered at farm stands in Hunan, China.
Spoken language creates a barrier here, but shopping the variety of the local farms helps to break barriers down. One thing you notice right away, neighborhood shoppers at Biao Zhi Men market demand a wide variety of fruits. Stunning. Delicious. Brilliant fruits. I’m happy to show you some varieties you may not see all the time.
Red Pomelo (Chinese grapefruit)
There is a much larger variety of grapefruits in this world than we thought. Pomelos come in different sizes and colors like green and yellow. When sliced they might be white, green or red inside, like these. The thing is, these are not a hybrid. Pomelos were crossed with other citrus, like oranges to create the hybrid fruits we know today. Grapefruits are believed to be the offspring of pomelo, not the other way around. Wikipedia highlights the voyage of this non-hybrid, Asian fruit around the globe.
#4 Hand-roasted cashews
One of the favorite photos in my house is of a heavily-wrinkled man roasting nuts in a market in Europe. For my #4 farm stand find in Biao Zhi Men, my cousin found a similar moment in time with a local vendor roasting cashews. Look closer. His heat source is an old utility bucket attached to a gas line. That makes me a little nervous. I hope it doesn’t give him any trouble.
Have you tried persimmons? Other than the cost, I cannot understand why this delicately-sweet fruit isn’t more popular in the US! I’ve got a persimmon story for you. Last week, I sat down at a community table cafe at my office and a Ukrainian immigrant asked if anyone knew the name of the tomato-orange-plum-looking fruit he brought from home. I did. He was so happy to get the English translation. He said it’s his favorite fruit. But, now I could use help. Do you know the word for them in Mandarin or Cantonese?
Considering that in American English the word pomegranate is used for a deep reddish-pink color, I didn’t realize until I started doing research for this post how many colors and flavors of pomegranates exist in this world. America, guess what? The tart, hard-seeded fruits we are used to are not nearly the best pomegranates have to offer. I hope your local farm stands carry a better variety than our grocery stores.
Bonus! There’s a little glimpse of kumquats in the lower left corner of this pomegranate photo. I used to eat these right off the bushes when I lived in Florida. In a post on forgotten herbs, I mentioned kumquats had a similar flavor to sorrel, only kumquats have a stronger citrus kick.
#1 Kiwano (aka Horned Melon)
How could I possibly pick anything other than the fabulous kiwano horned melon to be our #1?! Is it straight out of Dr. Seuss. Inside, the seeds look more like a glossy, green interior of a tomato than what we might think of as a melon. These may not be that unusual to a large part of the US. In fact, they were trending as a Google topic in Colorado and Arizona in 2017. Interesting. I wish I knew how that got started.
It is so wonderful to explore these photos from the Biao Zhi Men marketplace.
Here are some bonus pics.
Add a comment if you can identify these. The green-brown plum-like date in the lower left corner is jujube. I’m not sure about the others.