One of the fruit we saw everywhere in Sichuan and almost nowhere else in China was pipagao, or loquat.
Pipagao, also known as Chinese plum, is not technically a plum but rather the fruit of a shrub, Eriobotrya japonica, that grows all over Sichuan province. The fruit are yellow to orange, grow in clusters and are slightly smaller than plums. They are sweet, srcumptuos and juicy, and contain one to five dark brown seeds the size of small marbles.
In Sichuan, you can buy them from the roadside, from fruit vendors and street carts, for almost nothing at all. They are considered a great delicacy and are available in 10 pound boxes that were everywhere at airports on inner-Chinese luggage carts – everyone was bringing them where ever they went as presents or for family members. Once packaged in these decorative boxes, the prices skyrocket to substantial even for Westerners, by the way.
Since we were in Sichuan, where they were budget-friendly, I indugled.
Oh, I did.
Boy, did I ever.
I even bought some on the way up the sacred Buddhist mountain Emei, and ate them on temple steps while petting a temple kitty. Absolutely perfect. I’d describe the flavor as something like a peach-plum mixture with a bit of acidity that manages not to take away from their incredible sweetness.
Nutritionally speaking, loquats are excellent sources of Vitamin A, fiber, potassium and manganese, while also being extremely low in sodium. A win-win situation when something so healthy tastes so good! And even better? 8 calories per fruit. Yep. I promise, you won’t regret trying them if you can ever get your hands on them!