Does calamari grow on trees?

weirdcitrus.jpg

It's finally warming up here, so I went for a walk on my day off today. Some of the citrus trees in my Oakland neighborhood are covered in ripe fruit! So I stole foraged some Meyer lemons and some oranges. (Hey, if the tree grows next to a public sidewalk, and there's fruit all over the ground, I figure the building's residents can't possibly mind.)

And then I ran across a tree with some crazy-looking fruit. Some were big, some tiny, ranging from green to orange, but all had these clumps of thick, squidlike tentacles. It smells citrusy. What the hell is it? Does anyone know? Is it a mutant orange tree of some kind?

Hmm. There's a crematorium down the street … but I'm sure the mercury fumes have nothing to do with it. Although I do always wash the grime off my booty very, very well before using it.

14 Responsesto “Does calamari grow on trees?”

  1. Nicole says:

    I will thank all the Iron Chef I watch. It is Buddha's Hand: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddha%27s_hand

  2. DairyQueen says:

    That's it! Thanks Nicole! Wow, I love the internets.

    "Buddha's hand" -- now that is cool. Much better than just mercury-mutated oranges.

    I think I'll try to candy the peel at some point.

  3. Jack says:

    It's a Buddha's Hand, also called Citron. We have such a tree in our backyard with 3 on it this year. Yours, above, isn't quite ripe.

    I've seen them at Whole Foods and Dean & Deluca for $6 or so each.

    My understanding is that they're more for ornamental use. You can use the rind like a lemon, I believe. Perhaps I need to go check my exotic fruit book.

  4. Annie says:

    Lara uses Buddha's hand to good effect and includes a photo here.

  5. Emily O. says:

    Wow, I had no idea a fruit could look like that...

  6. Amber says:

    Buddha's hand is occasionally available at the Farmers market's in the Bay Area. They are beautiful, fragrant, and are quite good for both candying and making limoncello. I made limoncello last year from a friend's lemon's, but haven't been fortunate to find someone with a tree to make donations!
    And yes, that one is a bit underripe.

  7. Dammit, I was going to answer and look all SMRT, but everyone beat me to it.

  8. henny_youngman says:

    Looks like you must stroll around the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland (now called lower Rockridge or just Rockridge.) When we lived in that area, we had a couple of these Buddha's Hand trees as did several of our neighbors. As the story goes, the houses were built in the 20's by mainly Italian families. Each family had its own garden and basically a mini orchard and we even had a well at our house for irrigation! They grew Buddha's Hand to make Italian marmalade, or so I'm told. This is actually one of the best areas I've ever seen for foraging because there are so many old trees -- good apples, stonefruit, citrus, etc. Sorry to get nostalgic on you!

  9. the los angeles-based fallen fruit project is looking for participants worldwide so that the project expands beyond l.a. to include (eventually) global maps of where to find sidewalk-draping fruit. sounds like your nabe would be a perfect candidate for its own map!

    http://www.fallenfruit.org/

    also, amber's comment made me realize that a neighbor's fruit tree is ripe for lemon-picking, so i'm going to try the limoncello-making myself, once i ascertain whether they own a gun.

  10. DairyQueen says:

    Henny -- alas, I don't live in Temescal, I live in the much less cool area we like to call OakLeyVille, as it's right on the border of Oakland, Berkeley, and Emeryville. Unlike Temescal, we have no charming restaurants, but we do have an ashram, a Black Muslim Bakery, and several liquor stores. On the bright side, there are indeed some lovely old fruit trees all over, with lemons and apples just going to waste in people's back yards.

    I'm going to have to check in to that marmalade idea for Buddha's hand....

    Lyrical: I totally want to do a map of the neighborhood for that fruit project! But then I might have to share my bounty with someone other than the squirrels.

  11. holy crap! buddha's hand for the foraging? what street is that tree on?!?!

    :)

  12. Dairy Queen says:

    You want me to give up my supply, now that I know what it is?
    OK, OK, I guess I can share. It's next to a big old warehouse-y loft building on Horton Street in Emeryville, cross street Park Ave 45th St. There are citrus trees on the Park Ave 45th St side too.

  13. Tracy D. says:

    I suppose this is what Alameda's Hangar One's Buddha's Hand vodka is all about? See http://www.hangarone.com/fruit3.html.