The other day, I found this new product at our local grocery store: Pichuberry (TM). The box described it as a “newly-discovered Super Fruit.” It came from Colombia. The Latin name is Physalis Peruviana.
I hadn’t seen these newly-discovered berries in years. They were abundant in season in Delhi, when I was a kid. We called them “gooseberries” and ate kilos of them. They were cheap enough that my Mom made preserves from them – enough to last us most of the year. It was a lot better than Kissan’s mystery-fruit jam we had otherwise.
Had Delhi discovered them before anyone else?
Not so, it would seem. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about this plant, called the Cape gooseberry (South Africa), Inca berry, Aztec berry, golden berry, and a host of other names:
- The plant was grown by early settlers of the Cape of Good Hope before 1807. In South Africa, it is commercially cultivated; canned fruits and jam are common, often exported.
- Not long after its introduction to South Africa, Physalis peruviana was introduced into Australia, New Zealand, and various Pacific islands.
- It is also cultivated and naturalized on a small scale in Gabon and other parts of Central Africa.
- It is grown in India where it is called ras bhari.
- The Cape gooseberry is also grown seasonally in Heilongjiang Province in northeastern China, harvested in late August through September.
- Its Turkish name is altın çilek.
- It is grown in Thailand, particularly on Doi Inthanon.
- In Egypt where it is known locally as harankash or as is-sitt il-mistahiya (the shy woman, a reference to the papery sheath).
The store price here was the equivalent of several pounds of apples, but I bought a box of the ‘newly-discovered super-fruit’ anyway. For old times’ sake. It brought back memories of sitting with my Dad while he spread a toast with cream and, for our amusement, made designs on it with Mom’s home-made Gooseberry jam.