French: nèfle, loquat, binasse
Medlar, Japanese plum
These little-known fruits glow with sunshine and announce summer's return. They also bring to mind the mild climate of the Mediterranean, where loquat trees grow around the perimeter. With excellent health benefits, the loquat will add a unique touch to your cooking.
Originally from China and Japan, the Japanese loquat was first introduced into the Iberian peninsula by China's merchant navy which landed at the port of Sagunta, Valencia. The fruit also took on its name of origin, being called the Callosa d'en Sarrià loquat.
According to manuscripts from the period, the Japanese loquat was imported from Canton to London in 1787 and the first loquat tree flowered in France in 1801.
In Japan, the fruit is called bi-wa, the name of the Japanese lute, because this traditional musical instrument is made from the wood of the loquat tree. Its role in Japan transcends the realm of food and it is often given as a sign of respect or as an offering in thanks for a wish granted.
First introduced in Europe around 1787, the loquat is now cultivated in many subtropical countries. The trees flower in winter and bear clusters of fruits that ripen at different times in the spring: in March and April in Algeria, in May and June in the south of France, etc.
The loquat is a small, yellowish, fleshy, pear-shape fruit. The average loquat is 3 to 5cm in diameter and 4 to 7cm in height. It has 2 to 5 stones, or rather large pips.
Photo: Olga Popova for MSCOMM
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