Taiwan is a fresh fruit-lovers paradise. From persimmons to dragon fruit to wax apples to starfruit and dragon eyes, the ingenuity of 10,000 years of Chinese fruit agriculture is on display at any street market in Taipei.

The mysterious fruit that has stolen my heart has many names. Sugar-apple, custard-apple, sweet-sop, cherimoya–its Latin name is Annosa squamosa, its origins lost in the mists of time somewhere in the central Andes of South America. Mark Twain called it “the most delicious fruit known to men”.

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Sekya ready to eat!

The Chinese call it Shijia, in the Taiwanese dialect, Sekya, after Shakyamuni or Gautama Buddha.

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Buddha’s distinctive hairstyle.

You won’t find this fruit in North America unless you get lucky in an Asian market–but if you do, feel it carefully (don’t squeeze!)  If it’s soft as, say, your upper thigh, it’s ready to eat. If it’s harder like the top of your shoulder, let it rest on a soft surface at room temperature till soft. Carefully pull open the sekia on a plate or saucer (these things are delightfully messy) and use a small spoon to scoop the out the flesh. The big black seeds are very hard, don’t bite ’em. The flavor will amaze you: creamy, sweet, tangy, fragrant: if ice cream, custard, pears and lemons got together and had a baby it would be the magical Sekia.

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