Friday, May 29, 2009

Eric in a Can

Do you have Prince Albert in a can?
Yes, we do.
Well you'd better let him out.

Bwahahahahaha! Personally, I can't believe this joke was ever deemed funny - momentarily fleetingly clever (maybe) - but never actually ha-ha funny. Unless you are 8-years old.

Having said that, that so-called gem has been running through my head for the last few weeks and I can't seem to get it out. I am days away from sticking industrial-size tweezers through my ear and trying to pull Prince Albert and his freaking can out of my cerebellum.

And the reason why Prince Albert and his freaking can is racing through my cerebellum? It is can erik season and I am consumed with the desire to call a grocery store here and ask if they have Erik (as in a Viking) in a can. Thus far, I have resisted the urge but only because I don't want to waste my phone c

So can erik (or
can eriği, plural). What is it? (or what are they?) Take a shufti at the above photo. Can erik is a shiny green fruit. According to those in the know, they are a member of the plum family (prunus cerasifera) - which accounts for the erik part of their name (plum, in Turkish). They are rather small. Take a shufti at the hand in the above photo. See?

But they look like apples! you cry. And you would be right. They remind me of crab apples.

In Turkey
can eriği are a harbinger of spring - not unlike our crocuses. For this reason, Turks have been gushing/praising/celebrating/extolling this David vs. Goliath of fruits ever since the first fruit man was spotted last month pushing his wooden cartload of the little green eriği down the main drag of Izmit - and every other city town or village in Turkey for that matter. The result was a stampede of can erik-crazed Turks.

I saw the wooden cartloads of eriği in the streets, shining pyramids of them piled outside neighbourhood fruit markets, and cellophaned packages of them in grocery stores, and had no clue what they were. So I asked my students. This is pretty much when I first became aware of the
gushing/praising/celebrating/extolling this David vs. Goliath of fruits. I was told that erik meant plum and that can meant green but not in the sense of the colour. I raised an eyebrow at this, but having had far too many can eriği by now, I can only assume that can means unripe. A cursory check of my dictionary contradicts this theory and offers instead lifeblood and esprit - which in any language does not mean green.

Reader, they are as much a plum as synchronized swimming is a sport. They are face-sucking sour and hard not fleshy not juicy
like a real plum. Even the peel is like an apple peel. Their stones are half the size of the fruit. Aficionados often eat them with salt - which I tried and would go to great pains not to recommend doing. They have zero nutritional value. To hell with science: I swear to God they're crab apples. In any other world, my mother would caution me against eating one.

I don't doubt that they are an acquired taste - after all, this is the country that also swoons over unripe almonds. But given that it's cherry and stra
wberry season as well, I intend to focus my taste buds elsewhere.

Students bring bags of can
eriği to class, chomping on them - what, is gum not good enough for them? - throughout their lessons and, because Turks are nothing if not hospitable, keep pushing the fruit on me. Occasionally I take one; most often I don't. I make up some lame excuse - I've had 32 today already - and tell them what they want to hear, that can eriği are truly a gift from God.

They are not.


Anonymous said...

Besides being sour what else do you know about them?
Can you make jam or jelly out of them?
Did your better half try them? What did he think of them?
Maybe they are just meant to clear out the system.

Mr. Cat said...

I tried them and they are kind of well...awful. I think they are meant to clear out the system!

This Cat's Abroad said...

Yup, to the best of my knowledge, they just eat 'em. I've seen ex-pat sites where recipes for jam and even a fruit pie are offered but I don't think locals do anything beyond gobbling them up.

Riza said...

pregnant women crave em... I've heard.

dem said...

:D I am Turkish and I found this blog while searched the google for images of THE BEST FRUIT IN THE WORLD!!! to show my non-Turkish friend. I had no idea people could not like it :) It is...godsent.