Lychees – “The Kings of Fruits” – are now in season.
I’m squeezing my entire face together, trying to remember. As if somehow bringing your eyes, nose and lips closer together would help your memory.
I’m trying to remember: when was the first time I ate a lychee.
I’m almost certain it was in Vietnam. Let’s say 2008. It had to be. I remember the feeling, the taste, the novelty, the dripping messy juiciness running down my chin and my fingers, the crisp sweetness with a sudden perfumed tang. The skin of the fruit – red and rough textured, like a dragon’s scales. But I can’t grasp the details, the surroundings, the people. They remain fuzzy and deliciously formless.
I’m tempted to say lychees are my favourite fruit altogether.
In Paris, lychees were my wintery delicacy, something I’d indulge in after long, tiring days at work. I’d buy them in huge heaps from the fruit & vegetable market on my street, where the Moroccan sales men knew me almost by name. (“Bonsoir, mademoiselle Finlande! Ca va aujourd’hui?” – For clarification: my “name” abroad rarely is Sara, it’s “the Finnish girl”, la finlandaise, die Finne. True to form.)
Usually, I just eat all the lychees I have. Fresh and right away. I have no patience or self-control and, quite genuinely, they really taste best just the way they are. However, if you’re new to lychees, I do recommend experimenting with them a little. Frozen lychees are wonderful – if you’ve ever eaten frozen grapes, lychees have a similar, fine and tender sorbet-like texture without any loss of flavour and fragrance. You can also mix some mean drinks: lychee martinis are usually made with syrup, but a lychee margarita put through the blender will hit the winter drink jackpot. You can even make a salsa with them, or chuck some in a stir-fry.