Spring is finally here but if you live in Beijing you know it had already been gone before I finished typing this sentence. Nonetheless, it’s the perfect time of year to make or order a fruit salad and get to know some of the common fruit in China.
Fruit salad is on the menu of many restaurants in China, except the very small ones. It’s different from region to region but at least in the northern parts of China they usually contain watermelon, dragon fruit (pitaya), pear, melon and oranges.
In case you are wondering what is the yellowish liquid covering what otherwise would have been a perfectly good salad, brace yourselves before I tell you, it’s a thousand island dressing. Yes, you heard right. Thousand island dressing. Why? I don’t know, but that’s the way it is served in many restaurants in China. If you don’t want any kind dressing on your salad say this to the waiter (click here for the card): 任何沙拉酱都不要放，谢谢！(rèn hé shā lā jiàng dōu bú yào fàng, xiè xie).
If you want to make you own fruit salad, you’ll need a list of common fruit in China which will help you with fruit shopping. It’s alphabetized and it’s got pinyin.
FOODragon's fruit dictionaryDownload
Either for their name or appearance, China has some very interesting fruits.
Pitaya (also known as dragon fruit) has a very unique exterior. The meaning of its Chinese name is fire-dragon-fruit and if you ask me, it totally looks like a dragon egg.
The inside is also pretty but is tastes surprisingly neutral for a fruit with such intense colors.
Speaking of dragons, you might also want to try eating their eyes. The name Longan derives from the Chinese name lóng yǎn which means ‘dragon eye’. Once the skin is removed it really feels like you are holding an eyeball. It tastes like lychee.
Another very interesting fruit is the durian (not to be confused with jackfruit). If it had a mouth I’m sure it would have yelled at everyone and tell them to back off, because this fruit is working very hard to keep everybody away. It has a thorn covered husk and a strong unpleasant odor. The taste is okay one you get over the smell but many don’t think it’s worth it.
Strawberries are so mainstream, wouldn’t you say? Why not try the red bayberry.
A cool tip for a hot day: buy some red bayberries and put them in the freezer for several hours before you eat them.
Spot the Character
I guess you don’t really need to know the character for ‘fruit’ to be able to spot a fruit stand, but it’s an interesting character nonetheless, so why not take a look?
The Chinese character for fruit consists of two elements. On the bottom we have the tree and on top of it there’s the field (looks familiar?) which signifies the yield of the tree. Pretty simple, no?
This character is pronounced guǒ but it also has other related meanings such as result (结果), achievement (成果) and consequences (后果). To say fruit as an independent word you need to add the character 水 (shuǐ) which means ‘water’ and say shuǐ guǒ (水果) because fruit come from water.
Another useful word with 果 is 果汁 – guǒ zhī which means juice. Look for it in the beverages section.