When I find a new food, it is always surprising to discover its history, and how it has been enjoyed by cultures around the world for thousands of years. I don’t like missing out on the good things in life, and foods from around the world are definitely some of the best things to enjoy. While a trip to the garden is a delight in knowing that your homegrown produce is fresh, organic and delicious, a trip to the supermarket brings cultures and food tastes from thousands of years ago and thousands of miles away within reach. My most recent stretch was for a Ya Pear. Produced in China’s Hebei province, Ya Pears are one of the most popular fruits in China, where they originated more than two thousand years ago. Yet, only a fraction of this delicious fruit is exported. Also known as the Chinese White Pear, the Ya Pear is similar in colour to the Japanese Pear, but favours the shape of a European Pear, with a round base and tapered top. On the shelf, each pear is presented as though it were a gift; wrapped in tissue paper and encased in foam mesh. It’s a good idea to take a peek inside to ensure the fruit has no blemishes or excessive brown colouring. Ya Pears are firm to the touch, yet already ripened and ready to eat upon purchase. The thin, golden skin is flecked with tiny brown dots, while the inside flesh is creamy white. I recommend keeping the skin on for additional fibre and as protection against oxidation. Once exposed to air, the flesh quickly discolours. And while the juice of orange, lemon or lime squeezed on the pear can temporarily preserve its pristine appearance, it’s only a matter of time before the flesh turns brown. Ya Pears are crunchy, sweet and juicy, tasting like a combination of pear and apple, with a hint of rose. Comprising nearly 90% water, the Ya Pear is refreshingly juicy without the dripping mess you would experience with a traditional pear. With a texture that’s grainy and crisp, Ya pears can be used just as you would any other type of pear: fresh on its own, in salads, poached, baked, and in a variety of dessert dishes. Ya Pears store well for about a week at room temperature or several weeks in cold storage. The Ya, like other varieties of pears, is one of the most hypoallergenic fruits available. They are also a good source of antioxidants Vitamin C and copper. Plus, each Ya Pear contains just 50 calories. Which makes it easy to say ‘yes’ to the Ya.
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