Kiwi: a people, a bird… and a fruit
Careful, never tell a New-Zealander that you eat kiwi because he might think you’re a cannibal! In fact, Kiwi is the nickname of the people of the nation of the All-Blacks, the kiwi bird is their national emblem and the kiwifruit, as they call it, refers to the bird because its brown skin resembles the animal’s plumage. In fact the kiwifruit originally grew in China and was for many years known in many languages as the Chinese gooseberry, a very bitter wild fruit picked since the 12th Century for its medicinal properties. It’s only in 1924 that two New Zealand plant breeders, Hayward Wright et Bruno Just, cultivated and developed the kiwifruit that we consume today. The fruit began to travel beyond the antipodes during World War II because American and British soldiers, who took a liking to it, brought it home with them. It was subsequently exported massively and planted in orchards in numerous countries. It’s estimated that over 4000 tons are produced worldwide annually, of which half are grown in China. Italy, which was the first European country to plant it in large quantities and cultivate it like grapevines, is the second biggest producer, while New Zealand is only third on the podium. More kiwifruits are being grown around the world every year, from Iran to Chile via many European countries. Because of its balanced sweet and sour flavor and the gracious green color of its fleshy fruit, the kiwifruit is perfectly suited for many culinary combinations. On top of that, it contains more vitamin C than an orange and a good dose of vitamin E, which makes it a particularly desirable winter fruit.