Lychees Are My Favorite Fruit

Not these lychees, though:

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I bought these lychees from a grocery store on 6th Avenue a few months ago. Today, hungry, I opened the can and ate a few with a fork. They tasted fine—they suggested all the qualities that I love about real lychees, but it’s like comparing canned pineapple to real pineapple.

I experienced my first real lychees on the salad bar at the City Bakery. These are the ones I love: they’re already peeled and prepared and each one is like a burst of the exotic in your mouth. It’s so hard to describe the flavor of a fresh lychee: it tastes floral but it doesn’t overwhelm. And the texture is firm, like a grape, only meatier and juicier.

If I am to grow in my lychee knowledge, I should go to Chinatown and buy the real thing—learning how to prepare them myself. I’ve seen them in their raw state: they’re red and shelled. They look really interesting.

Based only on my experiences at The City Bakery, lychees are my favorite fruit–and they’re not even a fruit! A lychee is a nut. A nut with an identity crisis. If you haven’t had a lychee yet, please do so. They’ll rock your world.

13 comments

  1. Me too! I love lychees and am always surprised that more people haven’t heard of them, let alone tried them. Fresh ones are excellent, and getting the peel/shell off in one piece is oddly satisfying. Have you had the lychee candy that they sell in Chinatown? It’s really good, and the flavor is unmistakable. And a coffeeshop near me sells lychee tea, which I really like.

    I think Lychees are in season from the middle to the end of June. That’s usually when I find them in the store.

  2. Lychees are my favorite, too. If you get the chance, try rambutans. They are similar to lychees, but have a prickly outer shell/skin/whatever.

    As for Lychees, they are not nuts. After the fruit has been off the tree for a few days, it dehydrates and shrivles, and looks like a nut. Hence the “lychee nut” misnomer. However, they are definitely fruit and the seeds are inedible.

    They are no big deal to prepare, just peel and eat. I think it is just about lychee season now, or maybe in a week or so. You should be able to find them in the regular grocery store (you might need to go to an upscale grocery), most of them are coming from Homestead, Florida, not Asia as you might assume.

    When I was growing up (in south Florida) you could drive to homestead and buy pounds and pounds of them on the side of the road for a few dollars (have you seen the price of these in the store?!?!?!), and I would exist on a diet of lychees and, well, lychees for the couple weeks they were in season. Sadly, my roadside Lychee “hook-ups” began to dry up when south dade and homestead began to get a built-up. So . . . my parents bought a tree and 8 years later there was lychee for all (and then they sold the house 2 years later). If your parents plan to be in boca for a while, you should convince them to plant a lychee tree!

  3. Cool, I didn´t know they grew lychee in Florida!! How innovative hehe. Well umm…with lychees in New York sometimes you get good ones and some will taste a little off, luck of the draw. Make sure the outside shells look fresh. Cheap lychees are usually too old (you can tell by the faded color and lightness) And not worth eating… By the way, if you ever visit China or Hong Kong, this time of the year would be lychee season, and I promise you, lychee season is good times…cheap, fresh delicious lychees, and like she said above, you can live on them.

  4. Lychees and peaches make the summers I spend in China bearable. Once in season people are selling them absolutely everywhere, and they are both delicious and fun to eat.

    Btw, the Chinatown ice cream factory makes an extremely tasty lychee ice cream.

  5. Too funny. I was just talking about lychees to my hub and in-laws.

    Well, really, talking about how I’d never had one.

    I was at a wine tasting once, and I kept saying, “this wine smells like DILL!” Another girl agreed with me. Turns out, we were the only two people who’d never had fresh lychee.

    Whoda thunkit?

  6. funny, i just had lychee gellato last night – quite tasty! i used to live in hawaii and would feast on fresh lychees, right off the tree, from time to time – so good…

    Keep on keepin’ on A.G.

  7. I love lychee! There’s this new “malt beverage” called Brutal Fruit that’s being test marketed in this region… they have a lychee flavor!

  8. You should visit Asia (HK, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia) where lychees are abundant and cheap. There is one variety of lychees with a very small seed. Those lychees are full of juices and bursting with flavors. You have to also try mangosteen. The fruit is purple on the outside with white flesh. The flavor is very distinctive and it’s something you’ll always seek for once you’ve tried it. I read a NY Times article that mangosteens are banned in the US. But be sure to try if you ever come across them!!

  9. ever tried a lychee martini?

    that’s also fun to say. and even more fun to drink!

    –b.

  10. I am a huge fan of lychee martinis. Try Verlaine for $4 L martinis until 10pm. they will blow your mind.

  11. Well, I just had to butt-in and offer my two cents about lychees. Just tried my first one today and was absolutely delighted! I live in South Florida and they did indeed come off of a co-worker’s tree. I saved the seed from the one I ate and will try to grow a tree of my own. Keep your fingers crossed! Hehe…

  12. I LOVE LYCHEES TOO!!!!!!!!!!And the most mind-blowing lychee martini I ever had was with Lichido Liqueur–still waiting for it to appear in liquor stores.I called the company and they said May 2006.Yey.

  13. It is in liquor stores.I bought three bottles just the other day. We’re already down to one :-(

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