For this week's blog post, rather than talking about a dish that can be eaten, I wanted to showcase a sculpture made by my friend Jazzy on the topic of food—specifically the dragonfruit.
Write-up by Jahzerah Cheng on Untitled (dragonfruit): "The fall that I did this project, I was eating a dragonfruit almost everyday. They really are just the perfect fruit, and I wanted to do a project that would reimagine it. The nature of the fruit is already intricate and mesmerizing so I set out to create a more fantastical fruit. In my process, I took photos of actual dragonfruits by which I digitally fragmented the images so as to create this colorful pattern. The pattern was then cut out into individual pieces to create the shape of this papier-mâchéd sculpture. Silly enough, the sticker on the sculpture came from one of the dragonfruits I ate. The netting is handmade using a waxy floss to create a more structured version synonymous to the plastic netting these fruits are typically displayed in. Sometimes, I just want to take a big bite out of it."
Jazzy's sculpture particularly resonated with me because it shows how food can have so much sentimental value and meaning beyond serving as fuel and energy. It reminded me of my childhood and the times I would go to the Asian supermarket with my parents. Like Jazzy, I always found this fruit really intriguing and mesmerizing because of its crazy appearance. Its bright red outer shell almost compels one to imagine what is hidden inside.
This fruit illustrates how the simplest and the most ordinary of things such as food can have rich cultural backstories and narratives behind them. Because of its name and because I had only seen this fruit sold at Asian supermarkets, I always thought of the dragonfruit as an Asian export. However, doing some research led me to learn even more about the dragonfruit, which I thought I was already familiar with. Also known as a pitaya, the dragonfruit, despite being a tropical fruit commonly found throughout Asia nowadays, is actually a species native to Central America.
It led me to learn that the pitaya is grown in large fields with rows of cactus-like trees. The pitaya also has several varieties, and the one commonly found in Central America is of a yellow colour. What was most fascinating to me is how these fruits have acquired their name through linguistic associations. The dragonfruit generally refers to the red variety of the pitaya, but I also found out that the yellow variety is sometimes called a "dagger cactus" which is possibly an even cooler name for a fruit.