Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Strange fruit & why I love Italy!

My friend Josh just walked in to the wine shack with a handful of longan. I was clueless, they looked like some sort of hard nut to me. He said the cooks at Jade Teahouse where he works tie rubber bands around the stems and hang them above the line to snack on while they cook. He said you just bite the thin, semi-soft outer shell to crack them, then peel the shell and eat the lychee like fruit inside, avoiding the small pit (like a cherry pit). The verdict? LOVE THEM!! Not as sweet-spicy as lychee, which for me is a good thing, with a slightly nutty flavor. Soft, sort of cherry-like texture. Really cool little orbs of deliciousness. This is absolutely going to be my new favorite snack at home. I'm guessing Asian markets carry them. Wherever they are hiding, they will be mine!
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(said with an Italian accent): "Why, si signor, we'd be happy to loan you the money. If you could just drop off 100 prosciutto legs and a case of Brunello di Montalcino, we'll have a check ready in the morning. Grazie!"
Is it any wonder the Italians love life, food, and wine so much? Apparently, in what to me seems a remarkably enlightened economic decision, banks in Italy are considering accepting legs of prosciutto di parma (along with fine wines like Brunellos and Barolos) as collateral for loans. This slice of only-in-Europe-life was in an article today in the UK Guardian (thanks for the tip @karmeno on twitter). They already accept huge wheels of Parmagiano-Reggiano as loan collateral that they store in bank owned warehouses where they age it, and if the cheesemaker defaults they sell it. Try this at any U.S. bank....go ahead....I'll wait. What's that I hear? Laughter? Derision? And you can't even imagine this back and forth going on between a bank chairman and a U.S. cabinet official:
"We've done it with cheese, why not with prosciutto and good wines like Brunello di Montalcino and chianti classico?" said Gianni Zonin, chairman of the Banca Popolare di Vicenza and head of wine producer Zonin.

"This is a great idea, it has my blessing," said Luca Zaia, the Italian agriculture minister.

Ah, Italy, is it any wonder I dream of laying in your pork cured bosom?


Anh said...

These are longans! I love them! My grandpa has a tree back in Vietnam. So delicious...

josh? said...

Hey dude as promised.

Longan can be found here:
Tp Produce
410 SE Division Pl
Portland, OR 97202

bb said...

Anh....I want to go visit your grandpa. Lucky you!! are rocking my world, dude. Thank you!