WORDS CHUSRI NGAMPRASERT PHOTO KAY CHOOMONGKOL
With an attractive red colour albeit
scaly peel, the translucent white
flesh of the lychee fruit offers a taste
that’s sweet, tangy and refreshing.
With its aromatic scent, the fruit can
be enjoyed throughout the season as
a timeless treat.
Its light, floral notes of rose and
pear pair perfectly with other
tropical flavours like limes and
coconut in a symbiotic fruit mix.
Lychee martinis and mojitos give
any party a blast. The fruit also
goes well in bubble tea or made
into desserts like ice cream.
Originating in southern China
in the Guangdong and Fujian
provinces, the lychee was first
introduced to the West in 1656
by Michal Boym, a Polish Jesuit
missionary. The fragrant fruit is
extensively grown in China, India,
Thailand, Vietnam and many tropical
and subtropical regions of the world.
The rosy-coloured fruit also
became a symbol for love after
Emperor Tang Ming Huang of the
Tang Dynasty arranged a special
courier service to deliver the fresh
fruits hundreds of miles from South
China. A quick delivery got carried
out to the Imperial court in the
North before the fruit got spoiled
to please his favourite concubine
Yang Guifei, considered one of
the four most beautiful women in
ancient China. A popular lychee
variety is named Fei Zi Xiao, or the
concubine smile, after this legend.
With over 40 varieties of lychee
worldwide, Thailand has: Hong Huay
(from oblong, conical to heart-shaped
with a thin skin, sweet and sour
properties and aromatic); Ohia (heartshaped,
thinner skin, a soft and thicker
flesh, sweet); Emperor or Jakkraphat
(huge, thick skin, pinkish red, sweet,
juicy) and Khom (heart-shaped,
reddish-pink, juicy, and sweet).
Apart from its enticing taste, the
fruit has vitamin C, vitamin B complex.
The beneficial presence of copper,
phosphorus, and polyphenol oligonol
gives it antioxidant and anti-viral
properties. It’s said that the lychee aids
in weight loss, protects the skin, and
boosts the immune system. Eating a
lychee can be a preventative measure
for cancer, improve digestion, lower
blood pressure, improve circulation,
and optimise metabolic activities.
With its delicate and lingering
taste, the lychee has put a smile for
hundreds of years on many faces.