Buddha, Guy de Maupassant & Fruit That's Shaped Like People
When the latest issue of Mental Floss arrived in our mailbox, I was less than enthused. It was billed as "The Money Issue." Yuck, I thought, finances. (Not my favorite topic.)
Five minutes into it, however, I was laughing hard. As usual, the magazine was hilarious. My favorites?
- a cookbook of invasive species to eat during the hard times
- an article about how monkeys compare to stockbrokers in their investment strategies (Guess what, monkeys are definitely competitive!) and
- a small column about a Chinese farmer who's making a fortune selling Buddha-shaped pears.
It was the latter story that really made me think— about all sorts of things.
Baby Buddha Pears
Could I amass a fortune from fruit?
First, my mind touched upon domestic topics.
- Where could I find a good Baked Baby Buddha Pear recipe? And would it be inappropriate to serve it with fig sauce and brie shaped like a tree?
- Hao Xianzhang, the Chinese farmer, covered his young pears in plastic Buddha-shaped molds and let them develop for six months. If I encased the pears on our trees in molds shaped like angry faces, could I scare pesky deer and squirrels away? Could I hull the little pears out like jack-o-lanterns? Would they become the latest thing?
- And then I thought about money. Hao Xianzhang was making a fortune selling his baby Buddha pears at $7 a pop. Could I amass millions by marketing DIY fruit molding kits online?
And then, because I have no idea how to make molds or run a business, my mind drifted to Guy de Maupassant.
A horrible suspicion that your brains are oozing out of your ears.
When French short story writer extraordinaire Guy de Maupassant was born, it was all the rage in France to mold the heads of infants into fruit shapes. Guy's parents chose the apple.
Later in life, Maupassant suffered bouts of insanity. He had an odd feeling that his brains were coming out of his ears.
Includes an account of Maupassant's head-molding experience . . . and that of his brother. (It was less successful.)
More Fruity Books
My ruminations on Maupassant and Hao Xianzhang inevitably led me to consider literary masterpieces served with a helping of fruit.
Hao Xianzhang was inspired to create his baby Buddha fruit by the classic Chinese mythological novel Journey to the West. Based on Chinese folktales, the novel features baby fruit that gives the eater immortality.
But Journey to the West isn't the only literary masterpiece that features fruit.
- Paradise Lost: John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost seeks to "justify the ways of God to man" by retelling the story of Adam and Eve. How successful is he? Let's just say that Lucifer is by far the most interesting character in the book— at least to me. In Milton's version, the serpent tempts Eve with an apple from the Tree of Knowledge. According to Milton, God actually wants her to disobey him by eating it!
- Lord of the Flies: In William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies, the stranded boys survive on fruit when they're not eating beasts (or becoming beasts themselves).
- The Grapes of Wrath: John Steinbeck's novel about the Joad family, "Okies" who leave the Dust Bowl in search of work in California, is a veritable fruit salad! In my favorite scene, starving Okies watch as farmers destroy fruit crops to drive prices up. As they watch, "In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage." That's right— a social revolution inspired by fruit!
There are probably lots of other fruity books out there. If you can think of more, I'd love to hear about them in the comment section.
Coming Soon to a Fruit Stand Near You?
What I remember most is that other people called me crazy.— Hao Xianzhang, Fruit Farmer
Hoa Xianzhang plans to market fruit shaped like Charlie Chaplin to U.S. customers. (Why Chaplin is anybody's guess.) And that makes me wonder what other things will come of this fruit shaping business.
Maybe it will turn into a sort of gardening performance art with green-thumbed, would-be Christos and Jeanne-Claudes creating fields of baby fruit in interesting shapes. In homage to Warhol, artist-farmers could create orchards full of little green Marilyn Monroes.
Fruit shaped like people?! It's way cooler than bobbleheads— and more nutritious. Politicians could actually serve themselves at fund-raising dinners! In suburban yards, home gardeners could fashion their pears into Mom, Dad, the kids— even the family pet! (To match the stickers on their minivans).
Why not? Art, fruit, fun— it's good for everybody.
Thanks, Hoa Xianzhang!
The Hao Xianzhang Story
Other Sites of Interest
- Custom bobblehead dolls made from your photo | Personalized bobble heads
Whether you call them bobbleheads, bobble heads or simply bobbles, Whopassenterprises custom bobblehead dolls personalized from your photo supply the fun-factor!
- FADO Performance Art Centre
- About Buddha
Includes info on the life & teachings of Buddha, as well as links to other Buddha sites.
- Journey to the West - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A general description of the classic Chinese novel.
- More Chinese Farmer Innovations: Baby Buddha Pears!
Chinese farmer Gao Xianzheng's baby buddha-shaped pears are an unusually creative way to stimulate sales.
© 2011 Jill Spencer