No Ordinary Cherry

There are two kinds of fruit in Japan. You have your regular, market variety fruit, and then there are the fruit you would never buy for your self but for those you love very, very much or to whom you very, very much wish to suck up. One can recognize the latter type of fruit because they will be packaged, often in ways that are not quite normal. Take the above cherries: single layer, probably individually hand inspected, militantly lined up five by eight, and costing 9,800 yen. Oh yeah, that's the other way to spot a "not for one's own consumption" fruit: the price. If you see an Okinawan mango or a melon with its t-bar-like stem still attached, run. Alright, that would be an overreaction. But I wouldn't buy one. I could be dead wrong, but I have a very hard time believing a melon that costs 25,000 yen would taste that much better than its humble 1,000-yen cousin. I can attest however that a mango from Okinawa has the potential to taste awfully good--brilliantly sweet, juicy, and smooth as butter, not a fiber in sight--but usually about 6,500 yen.

Regardless, if anyone gives you a present of fruit in Japan, you better get down on your knees and start doing a bit of toe kissing. If you're an insanely nice person or truly want to show your appreciation, the best thing you can do is to cut open that fruit and offer to share. Being Japan, there's a very good chance the fruit giver will protest and back away, in which case, you send them off with an over-profuse farewell (walk them outside, then stand on the road and keep shouting high-pitched thank-yous and waving frantically until they are completely out of sight--a speck on the horizon does not count); hurry back inside; do a happy dance around and around the precious box, because its contents will taste very good; and ever-so-slowly savor each bite--but not too slowly because there's nothing more painful to behold than rotten gift fruit.

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I remember seeing in a book called "Sights of Japan" or something to that effect, a picture of vegetable and fruit stalls in a Kyoto market. I coudn't believe the artistic way the vegetables were tied up and arranged, and the fruits in little boxes. It was so pretty I wish I were there to buy the whole lot. 

from Ana

5/03/2005 08:09:00 PM  

your post brings back memories of an ungoldly cold winter i spent in osaka in an old wooden house where you could hear the wind blow through the slats. my only souce of heat being one of those heated tables, which i basically lived beneath. i was, at that time, gifted with a box of, um, mikan, i seem to recall. i knew it was special because of the way they were packaged, lovingly wrapped individually with little gold foil twist ties, and from the way everyone oohed and ahhed around me. but i'm from california and a box of citrus is a mighty strange gift indeed. i shudder to think about how much that box cost but also have to admit that they were indeed, oishii. 

from rae

5/04/2005 01:58:00 AM  

Wow, those are some expesive cherries! They do look delicious though, unlike the wax covered genetically modified to have no taste variety that seems to grace the shelves of most gorcery stores over here. 

from Jaime

5/04/2005 02:33:00 AM  

Fruit is a nice, practical gift. I have knicknacks, trinkets and doo-dads coming out my nose over here, because people have a thing about gift-giving here. I am not against it, but I like consumables. If you're going to have to eat something anyway...  

from Jessica

5/04/2005 02:56:00 AM  

Oh yeah, and once, my roommate received a box of florida grapefruits and oranges as a gift. Oh. my. gosh. Wow. Yum. It was winter, and we had fresh-squeezed orange juice every morning. It doesn't GET any better than that. I'm done now. :-)

5/04/2005 02:58:00 AM  

Heehee...9800 yen for cherries?! I haven't seen such a sight! >_< But they DO look VERY tasty...^-^ 

from Tea

5/04/2005 08:00:00 AM  

Hey Ana, yeah, stores in Japan are so wonderful about wrapping and packaging things. I don't think I've ever had to buy gift wrap once.

Hey Rae, I know *all* about the cold. I have a heated carpet, but as much as I'd like never to leave it in the winter, it's crazy how limited one's life becomes from the living room floor.

Jaime, I'm afraid I'll never know how delicious those cherries truly are. But I'm pretty happy with the "cheap" ones that are sold at the supermarket during cherry season.

Jessica, I totally agree with you. I really am not crazy about knicknacks but I'm always pleased with an edible present. Oh, I once stayed with a friend's grandma in florida, and naturally she had orange and grapefruit trees full of fruit. What a luxury!

Hey Tea, crazy, huh?


from Rachel

5/05/2005 01:46:00 AM  

stop with the marijuana jokes, already. we GET it. 

from jan korn

5/07/2005 07:35:00 AM  

Huh? I told marijuana jokes? When? 

from Rachel

5/08/2005 11:48:00 PM  

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