The Anti-Apple

Recently one of my students presented an interesting gift to me from her hometown, Jiaxing (¼ÎÐË). It’s a kind of “fruit” (?) called líng (Áâ) in Chinese. According to my New Age Chinese-English Dictionary, it’s called a “water caltrop” or a “ling” in English. In any case, when she kindly gave me this plant-like alien-spawn, I had no idea what the heck it was.

Below are some pictures I took of the ling.


The first thing you have to do is get the green outer skin off the ling. It seemed to me that the best way to do that would be breaking the ling in half, and then proceed to peel from the rupture. I promptly did so, which earned me a disapproving frown from my student. Oh well, it worked. (Apparently the Chinese way to start peeling is to bite into the bitter outer skin and begin at that point.)

Once you get the skin off, you’re left with this little white lump. It kind of looks like a piece of peeled apple. Then you pop it in your mouth and chew, and discover it has the exact texture and consistentcy of a crisp apple… but none of the sweetness. So instead of that tart appley flavor, you get an almost water chestnut-like eating experience. It’s rather odd.

Thanks go to my student for introducing me to a new weird food. (I suppose I should mention she’s the same student who once wrote extensively for the now defunct ZUCC Blog and now maintains her own blog.)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

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