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My Proustian Moment

In Italy they are called nespole, in Cape Town loquats. You could not buy loquats in Cape Town, you could only steal them. They grew in people’s yards or gardens, on low-ish trees with coarse leaves and thing branches that couldn’t support much weight. No one farmed them and they weren’t sold in groceries. On my childhood block one tree grew in the front yard of a house owned by an old epileptic lady who occasionally fell on the sidewalk and convulsed, and another in the front of the wedding-cake house, also occupied by a really ancient woman who claimed as she chased us away that she made jam out of them.

In Italy, as in Barcelona and Greece, they sell them in markets. I bought a few and it took me back. You can make a wish when you taste them the first time in the season. God knows who actually farms them; it doesn’t sound too productive. They are delicious, the more so for being picked wild rather than cultivated. Mostly sweet, but not very, with a weird tart touch, but it doesn’t require any time to get used to them. I recommend them highly if you ever get to some place where you can find them. They will make a fabulous sorbet for Grom, who are already working on an organic version in their lab in Palermo.

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