It's August, the heart of what should be fruit season. Everywhere you look there are gorgeous displays of berries and stone fruit. It looks like a bounty of riches until, well until you actually taste the fruit. It's been a pretty disappointing season here in the northeast. Other than our weekly shipment of organic stone fruit, an indulgence justified by the baby, and some wickedly expensive west coast cherries, there hasn't been much to write about at all. Clearly this is no one's fault, Mother Nature makes her own decisions about how each season will go. But this year, not even the tomatoes are truly up to par. There is beauty in abundance, flavor and texture, not so much.
What we have found this summer are litchis. These small fruits have been available and delicious. The rough reddish-pink skins seem tough and impenetrable at first glance. Upon further inspection the shopper is beguiled by the delicious perfume wafting from within. I tend to choose litchis that are heavy for their size, that feel firm with pliable skins that have not yet begun to dry out. They are easily peeled if you dig in your fingernail around the bump at the top edge. Pop off this small, protruding end and the rest of the skin should peel off relatively easily to reveal the glossy, pearlescent flesh. There is a dark stone at the the center of the fruit, so when you pop that first one in your mouth, bite down gently, delicately sliding the juicy meat from the seed. The flavor is sweet, floral, reminiscent of nectar and rose petals, with a haunting after taste. It is a bite to be savored, all the more so for the effort that goes into procuring it. Fresh litchis are quickly becoming one of our favorite summer fruits.