DIn Asian stores, don’t lose sight of the dragon’s eyes. This rounded fruit, otherwise known as longan, is well placed on the stalls of the 13e district in Paris, while the Chinese New Year is celebrated this year on Saturday February 10. Especially since, according to the lunar calendar of the Middle Kingdom, 2024 falls under the sign of the dragon.
For those who have not yet tasted it, it is time to discover it. Eye to eye with the dragon. Under its thin brown skin hides translucent, juicy and gelatinous flesh with a sweet taste. This pulp surrounds a round, black and shiny core. Described in this way, longan certainly resembles a lychee. A family which has a third prominent member, the rambutan. It also offers fleshy, whitish flesh surrounding a brown core, but this pulp is protected by a hairy shell. Otherwise called “hairy lychee”, rambutan has not yet taken over the supermarket shelves. Like longan, it lives its life on the sly.
The lychee has found its place in the fruit basket. What’s more, at the time of the end-of-year festivities. “About thirty years ago, we only knew lychee as a canned fruit in syrup. From the moment the techniques of maritime transport became more sophisticated, fresh lychee arrived in Europe. underlines Denis Loeillet, from the Center for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development, who explains the reasons for its success: “A red, exotic fruit, easy to consume and moderately priced. »
The mango, the great rival
A real precision mechanism was built from Madagascar to deliver, at the key moment, nearly 17,500 tonnes of lychees to Europe. The fruits, picked when ripe, are sulfurized so that they do not suffer too much from more than fifteen days of transport in the hold, at 1 degree or 2 degrees. Barely landed in Sète (Hérault) or Port-Vendres (Pyrénées-Orientales), they arrive in supermarkets from December until February.
Madagascar is not the only starting point. The round fruit can also come from South Africa, Israel, Thailand, but also from France. In Reunion, with a production of 900 tonnes, lychee is at the top of the basket, presented plugged and untreated, after a comfortable plane trip. A mode of transport also popular with rambutan and longan, shipped from Thailand and sometimes Vietnam. On arrival, the price of the fruit is a little more expensive.
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