Spring vacation, a sunny afternoon. My cousin and I, both 5-years-old, are systematically picking loquats by the bunch, off our grandmother’s tree, peeling them, then eating the fruit. We save the seeds to use as ammunition for our game of war later on, which involves she being at her fortified steps and me at my completely uncovered steps [totally unfair, but we were kids, and the unspoken rule was that we must stay at our respective homes for this game], where we simply chuck the seeds at each other [luckily, her aim isn’t that good most of the time]. But the most important part of this was the hour or so spent picking, peeling, and eating the fruit – a delicacy that is only in season a few weeks out of the year. Everyday, until there are no more fruit to be had, we do this. We eat every ripe fruit we can reach, for there are many of our family members that live on the same lot and they will also eat the fruit. Loquats are our treasure.
It is now loquat season again. I’ve been noticing them yellowing on trees around the neighborhood, and it makes me giddy in anticipation…anyone who has tried a loquat as a child has the exact same reaction as I do to them – glee, salivation! They have a very distinctive look. I have been approached by a co-worker in the past, who happened to see the discarded seeds and skin in the trash. She looked at me, hungering and wide-eyed – the look of one who is in on the secret pleasures of this wonderful fruit – pleading for just a few of them. I happily gave her some, sharing the love, for they truly are amazing. The other, ignorant co-workers simply looked on as if we were lunatics. I still had sticky juice all over my hands from my recent devouring. Clearly, these are messy fruit. Because they are a little messy and labor-intensive to eat, if people don’t already love them, most don’t bother putting in the effort to even try them.
For some reason, a lot of people don’t know how awesome loquats are. I mean, that works out for me because it keeps the demand low and I can basically eat as much as I want, but it seems like a shame that such an amazing, beautiful, delicious, tart and sweet fruit all but falls off the radar for most people, and it’s in just about every neighborhood in Los Angeles! Just another of many reasons I love where I live.
I have heard of people making loquat teas and exotic jams, but the idea that anyone would use this fruit for anything other than eating them immediately from the tree seems like sacrilege.