According to legend, when Portuguese navigators reached China in the 16th century, they offered Chinese dignitaries a rose bush. The Chinese felt that this gift was an insult–the bush was full of thorns and had no flowers. To signal their displeasure, they offered the Portuguese a tree whose fruit was tart and hard to digest.
The Chinese planted the bush and when the first roses bloomed they marveled at their beauty and perfume.
The Portuguese planted the tree and loved its fruit because the sunny weather had made it deliciously sweet. They called it “nêspera” (loquat). It is the first fruit to ripen in the Spring. If you’re in Portugal during this season, don’t miss the chance to try it!