A couple of days ago, I was strolling through Fresh Market when I found THIS:
I know, me too.
I didn't buy the thing because it was $5.99, and I was kind of scared of it crawling up on me in the middle of the night and stealing my soul or something. It looks like a fruit Medusa, or like a tentacled sea creature that wanted to learn how to survive on land. It had the rind and color of a lemon, but the shape of a lemon that had endured the Three Mile Island incident.
It's called Buddha's Hand. Call me crazy, but none of the pictures I've ever seen of Buddha show his hand looking like THAT. Nor would I think that Buddha would take anything that emerged from a hand with that kind of mangled expression.
Whatever it looked like, I needed to know what it was used for, even if I could never eat it, so today I researched the Buddha's Hand fruit.
Apparently we Westerners only use it for its zest because it's less bitter than lemon zest. Eastern peoples use it to make a candy called succade. The way the Buddha connection got there was that, according to Wikipedia, "The fruit may be given as a religious offering in Buddhist temples. According to tradition, Buddha prefers the "fingers" of the fruit to be in a position where they resemble a closed rather than open hand, as closed hands symbolize to Buddha the act of prayer."
Right. I still think Buddha himself would cringe.
...and now you know!