Oct 2, 2014

The Dragon’s Eyes are ripe

And there’s no escaping them

Emily-the-model poses in Zhongba Woods
We went for a photo shoot in the Longan Forest. This tree is more than 100 years old.

Longan fruit — a cousin of the lychee — is a Luzhou specialty, and they’ve recently come into season. Also known as the dragon eye fruit, these little fleshy baubles grow on trees all over the countryside around here, and when it’s time, farmers and salespeople cart them into the city by the bushel. You can buy them in the markets and from the street vendors, even along the highway. And, really, you don’t even need to buy them.

It started a few weeks ago when the owner’s young daughter at Around the Corner restaurant showered us with handfuls of the fruit upon our arrival.
Later that evening, we were small talking with some fellow diners and one asked us if we had eaten any longans yet. His buddy pointed at our piles and said, they have some right now, you goof!

Since then, our local shop owners, friends, and strangers keep sending us away with arms filled with the fruits. Last weekend, our photographer friend brought us out for a photo shoot in the park near the school. (Oh yeah, we’re models in China.) The Zhongba Woods Park is a landscaped upgrade of a hundreds-years-old longan forest, and our friend took many, many pictures of us picking, eating, and throwing the fruit. We fed each other the fruit, we posed with other park goers whose arms were also full of fruit, we avoided bees that were fat and drunk on the fruit. And we somehow went home with more longans than we started with.

The thing is, we don’t really love longan fruit. The actual meat is succulent and tasty, but thanks to a tough outer skin it’s a lot of work to get at, and each piece has only a little bit that’s edible. But the whole city is excitedly celebrating the longan fruit season, and it is fun to be a part of that.