Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pomelo : A Great Fruit

The pomelo is very much a part of Foochows' love of fruits. We Foochows need pomeloes as part of our Chinese New Year celebration. The fruit is a symbol of good luck and prosperity. There are several types of pomelo actually but normally the Foochows would consider that there are the white and the pink types.

The white pomelo is often served as dessert at the end of a Foochow banquet in order to help with digestion. The pink pomelo is considered as an antidote for stomach or intestinal worms. Believe it or not, when we were young we were often given the pink pomelo and sure enough, if we had worms, we would see the worms in our stools. A few pomeloes really could cleanse all of the kids in no time. My mother really believes in this deworming treatment. I also bought a lot of pink pomelo for my children. (Just in case.) I am wondering if the younger generation can still remember this.

Pomeloes make very good gifts because they do not spoil easily. On the other hand,two or three pomeloes are always welcome when a person is ill in the hospital. The vitamins in the fruit can always help a faster recovery. Whenever I am ill, the only fruit I like is pomelo. It gives me a lot of comfort because I know someone cares for me and as part of my upbringing, a pomelo would always be a comforting sight. I am wondering if it is because I am Foochow. My children always like to place the skin of the pomelo (the white side) on their faces because they feel cool and comfortable. A skilfully cut rind of the pomelo,placed on their head always brings a lot of laughter to the family. Waiting for the segments of the pomelo the children would kid around and wear the rind as a hat. It was always a very happy occasion to eat pomelo.

Because it has a very thick and spongy rind, a metaphor has been created out of it. Foochows who know no shame are those who have skin as thick as pomelo's.

The pomelo leaves are often used to wash away any bad luck or sicknesses according to the superstitious Foochows who are not Christians. I believe many people still practise this.

The Foochows generally accept it as a fact that the second Kang Chu, Lau Kah Tii, was the man responsible for bringing the first pomelo seedlings to Sibu. That is why, we call one special type which has a little more furry skin, Moh Moh Pow, as Lau Kah Tii's nickname was Moh Moh. (He had this nickname because he reared hundreds of mother ducks when he first started his life in Sibu.)

We used to say that a pomelo tree in a Chinese garden would be indicative that the house belongs to a Foochow. But I am not sure if it is still true today. But all my Foochow friends in Miri do indeed have a pomelo tree. This prompts me to go and plant one when I have the opportunity in the near future. What a nice thought.

According to the Wikipedia, the pomelo is native to Southeast Asia, and grows wild on river banks in Fiji, Tonga, and Hawaii. It may have been introduced into China around 100 B.C. It is widely cultivated in southern China (Jiangsu, Jiangxi, and Fujian Provinces) and especially in central Thailand on the banks of the Tha Chin River; also in Taiwan and southernmost Japan, southern India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, New Guinea, Tahiti, and the Philippines. It is also grown commercially (on a limited scale for ethnic and specialty grocers) elsewhere, particularly California, Florida, and Israel. Because of this limited production, pomelos typically sell for about 2 dollars apiece in the USA.

The pomelo is also known as a shaddock, after an English sea captain, Captain Shaddock, who introduced the seed to the West Indies in the 17th century from the Malay Archipelago. In the Pacific and Asia, it is known as jabong and in Chinese it is called yòuzi (柚子) (not to be confused with the yuzu, which uses the same Chinese characters but is a different species), while it is called som o (ส้มโอ) in Thai, bưởi in Vietnamese and buntan (文旦, buntan?) or zabon (朱欒, zabon?) in Japanese. In Burmese it is called kywègaw thee in the south and shaupann thee in upcountry.

The pulp colour ranges between clear pale yellow to pink to red, and tastes like a sweet, mild grapefruit - it has very little or none of the common grapefruit's bitterness, but the membranes of the segments are bitter and usually discarded. It is the largest citrus fruit, growing as large as 30 cm in diameter and weighing as much as 10 kg; the peel is thick, and is sometimes used to make marmalade. One way to eat the pomelo is to remove the rind, then peel the segments themselves to obtain the juice vesicles or 'flesh' (see Gallery, below). Another way is to blend the fruit including its white membranes, to produce a purée. Candied then dipped in chocolate, the rind makes a magnificent grapefruity confection.

The finest variety (at least per California citrusmen) is considered to be the Chandler, which has a smoother skin than many other varieties. The photo above shows an almost-ripe Chandler (though it would still be good eating). In Vietnam, a particularly well known variety called bưởi Năm Roi is cultivated in the Vinh Long Province of the Mekong Delta region.

The tangelo is a hybrid between the pomelo and the tangerine. It has a thicker skin than a tangerine and is less sweet.

The peel of the pomelo is also used in Chinese cooking or candied. In general, citrus peel is often used in southern Chinese cuisine for flavouring, especially in sweet soup desserts.

Source : 28 April 2008 Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a U.S.

1 memories:

daughter of chaucer said...

Thank you for your blog posting about the Pomelo; I can't wait to try one! I had read that Pomelo tea was good for when you have a cold. I found your wonderful posting while looking for info on the fruit. Take care!


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