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!
20 thoughts on “A fruitful exchange”
wow,,,how cool!!! Great history lesson and when I move there I will keep my eyes open for this fruit!!!
Nêsperas are a really unique treat.
I remember eating those when we lived in Portugal. Awesome!
Reblogged this on The Portugal Years and commented:
Some fruit that traveled to Portugal from China. This is a nice history story.
What a wonderful legend.
bom post! conciso e bonito ;))
A minha avó sempre teve uma nespereira no quintal, queixa-se sempre que os melros lhe comem as mais doces.
tenho tantas saudades de comer nêsperas. à 6 anos que não vivo em Portugal, só vou lá no verão quando já não há nêsperas…
É verdade que os melros gostam muito de nêsperas!
Ah, is that how they got here! Jars of Nespera jam are lined up in my store for the rest of the year when they are all gone.
That’s an interesting story … It’s a pitty loquats are rather rare in Belgian shops.
You have to come to Portugal to try them!
I’d been out and about in Alcoutim one day last week and returned home to my boat on the pontoon on the Rio Guadiana. While I was away, someone had placed a huge bag of nesperas in our cockpit. We’d never eat our way through them all. Two days later, when it was was raining too hard to leave the boat, my five year old daughter and I made a batch of nespera and ginger jam! We’ll be enjoying those nesperas for a few months to come.
We named our land in Portugal after the Loquat as it was the first tree I pruned in our orchard!
You chose a tree with a beautiful history.
Lovely story. The fruit does look more than a bit familiar. Léa
I loved them as a child, and continue to do so now, though they’re harder to come by where I live. Had some delicious ones recently!
A sweet taste that is exotic and yet familiar.
Nice article, is this considered an invasive tree?
After 4 centuries in Portugal it is now as Portuguese as sardines.
Reblogged this on Parallèles Potentiels & Urbanités and commented:
Better not to trust first sight impression!
Ne pas se fier au prime abord…