Tang hu lu

25 Apr

There’s not many people I know who will mourn the passing of Beijing’s winter. The trees that have been ghostly bare for almost more than seven months suddenly burst into cherry blossom and leaves herald the beginning of the short spring. Winter was long and harsh in Beijing, but there’s at least one thing I know I’ll miss during the hot summer months.

Although Wikipedia refers to tang hu lu as a traditional winter snack especially for children, I beg to differ. I’ve seen every age of person buying the candied hawthorne fruits on sticks – young kids, old grandparents, young groups of teenage boys, trendy businesspeople, parents, well-off, not so well-off. The sweet snack is loved by all. And what isn’t to love? I originally thought the fruit was a crab apple, but hawthorne fruits are different. A small, round fruit, with red skin, usually about six or seven are pierced onto a skewer, then rolled in hot toffee. The toffee solidifies and you have what’s similar to a toffee apple. Only the toffee is thin and easy to bite into and you get a lovely sweet : sour tang of the fruit ratio. And the fruit is small enough to be the perfect mouthful! This is the original version, but I’ve also seen pineapple, orange, cherry tomatoes, strawberries and banana toffee on sticks. There’s also sprinklings of sesame seeds, peanuts, walnuts and rice stuffed into haw fruit.

But they are a winter snack, and I’ve already noticed my local tang hu lu seller in Wu Mart isn’t open until 9pm as he used to be open. The fruits are winter ones, and although they may be seen in summer, I’ve been told they will be old fruit and nothing like their cold weather counterparts. So perhaps I’ll have to quickly have my fill, until that long Beijing winter rolls through again.

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