Friday, April 11, 2008

What Is It?

Mostly Beshmalla and a Little Bit Of Teen

Whenever you go to a different country, there's always food that's new to you. In this case, it's growing in VB's yard. The gardener calls it "Beshmalla". Actually, some Egyptians are unfamiliar with it too. This past week, several young boys have been stopping to pick the fruit hanging over the fence that separates our yard from the street. The Beshmalla Tree is a few feet from VB's bedroom window. The boys were climbing up, to the point of practically breaking branches. You could hear the cracking. It was so disturbing our puppy, Lotus, growled and barked for the first time ever! Finally, yesterday the boab caught them in the act, and threatened to call the police. Their jaws dropped, their faces saddened, they dropped their cache of fruit, and then ran like the dickens.

After picking a few, washing them off, and tasting, VB has decided that the fruit is lovely. It tastes like a peach, with the texture of a plum. No wonder the boys kept coming back for more. But, if they weren't scared enough by the boab, Lotus will finish the job, should they dare set foot on my side of the fence!

Question: What the hell is it?

The next morning VB woke up, and the word kumquat was on her tongue. Nope, close but no cigar. Wiki had a link for Loquat, and that was it.

Confirming VB's guess is as follows (the bold type):


(Hungarian), "The name loquat derives from lou4 gwat1, the Cantonese pronunciation of its old classical Chinese name (simplified Chinese: 芦橘; traditional Chinese: 蘆橘; pinyin: lújú, literally "reed orange"). In modern Chinese, it is more commonly known as pipa (Chinese: 枇杷; pinyin: pípá), from the resemblance of its shape to that of the Chinese musical instrument pipa (琵琶). Likewise, in Japanese it is called biwa, similarly named from the corresponding musical instrument, biwa. It is also known as the "Japanese medlar", an appellation used in many languages: nêspera or magnório (Portuguese), níspero (Spanish), lokaat (Hindi), mušmula ili mešpula (Croatian nespola (Italian), náspolyanespra (Catalan), nèfle du Japon or bibasse (French). Other names include: sheseq (Hebrew), Askidinya, Akkidinya, Igadinya or Bashmala (Arabic), Akkadeneh or Akka Dhuniya (Lebanese), zger or Nor Ashkhar (Armenian), mushmala (Georgian), mousmoula or mespilia (Greek), muşmula, yeni dünya, or Malta Eriği in Turkish. The Armenian name Nor Ashkhar and the Turkish name yeni dünya literally mean "new world", while the everyday Turkish name for the fruit, Malta eriği, means 'Maltese plum', indicating perhaps confusion over the fruit's origin."

VB will have to keep a close eye on Lotus when she's in the yard as: "Like most related plants, the seeds (pips) and young leaves of the plant are slightly poisonous, containing small amounts of cyanogenetic glycocides which release cyanide when digested, though the low concentration and bitter flavour normally prevents enough being eaten to cause harm."

All quotes are from Wikipedia.

(Below - On the tree in VB's yard): "Loquat fruits, growing in clusters, are oval, rounded or pear-shaped, 3-5 cm long, with a smooth or downy, yellow or orange, sometimes red-blushed skin. The succulent, tangy flesh is white, yellow or orange and sweet to subacid or acid, depending on the cultivar."

(Below - The Beshmalla Tree): "It is an evergreen large shrub or small tree, with a rounded crown, short trunk and woolly new twigs. The tree can grow to 5-10 m tall, but is often smaller, about 3-4 m."

(Below - Picked and washed): "The loquat is comparable to the apple in many aspects, with a high sugar, acid and pectin content. It is eaten as a fresh fruit and mixes well with other fruits in fresh fruit salads or fruit cups. Firm, slightly immature fruits are best for making pies or tarts. The fruits are also commonly used to make jam, jelly, and chutney, and are delicious poached in light syrup.

A type of loquat syrup is used in Chinese medicine for soothing the throat like a cough drop. Combined with other ingredients and known as pipa gao (枇杷膏; pinyin: pípágāo; literally "loquat paste"), it acts as a demulcent and an expectorant, as well as to soothe the digestive and respiratory systems. Loquats can also be used to make wine."

VB's not sure she's seen any at the vegetable stands, but for anyone who is in an area where they are sold, try them - they are delicious!

(Below - A halved Loquat):

Next question!
(Answered by the boab next door - he's got a huge tree hanging over the fence, and onto the road.)

(Below): Some rampant figs (teen in Arabic) that seem to be flying, and plopping all over the yard! On the left, still hard, and on the right, reddish semi-ripe. Fully ripe they tend to look deep red - purple. (VB hasn't tried any yet, since the ripe ones usually splatter upon landing.) VB thought the figs looked different from the figs she usually sees in shops here and in the US, and thought they looked interesting enough to share. She's not sure if these are for eating fresh, best for drying, or for as use in jams.

(Below - halved not quite ripe fig):

Now, if you see any of these, you'll know what they are.


  1. I always see it on trees but I did not know that it can be actually eaten ,I did not know its name before thank you
    I think I am bit embrassed because I was supposed to know more about it

  2. I saw a tree of the loquats last week and wondered why it wasn't being stripped of its ripe fruit.. we had those trees around when I was growing up in Sydney.. the only people that ever ate them were the kids. Now the figs are interesting.. I will have to keep an eye out for them.

  3. I haven't had a loquat for years. My Gran use to have a tree in her garden. I've just had a trip down memory lane. Thanks VB

  4. zeinobia: You should try them sometime. They are really delicious. Just pick and wash (but not from my yard!) Hahaha.

    Lynda and Elle: I suspected this was some southern hemisphere fruit, which most of us don't see in the grocery stores, or at all, if ever. They are really good. Elle you are lucky. Lynda, go pick those SOBs before someone else does!

    Personally, I think I need a ladder to get to the rest of them, before they plop on the ground all smashed up.

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