The Japanese ume-fruit is a kind of plum or apricot that is pickled with sea salt and eaten as a sour, salty snack, umeboshi. The first time I tried umeboshi was when I studied in Sweden and shared a dorm kitchen with a Japanese exchange student, Mari from Sapporo. One evening, she pulled out a little bag and offered me to try this very special snack, that she had brought with her from Japan.
The yellow-brown things did not look too appetizing, but I gave it a try. An explosion of sour saltiness filled my mouth and I had to struggle no to spit out everything during the first couple of seconds. Though after my taste buds had recovered from the initial shock, they noticed a more complex, umami-packed flavor that they decided they liked a lot. The next time Mari received umeboshi supplies from Japan, she did not have to ask twice, if I wanted some, and today, umeboshi is one of the things that I always bring with me home, whenever I am visiting Japan.
You can eat umeboshi as a snack on its own, and it is supposed to be an excellent hangover cure. Though umeboshi is also delicious on top of rice or as seasoning in sauces and marinades. A rather strange, but also highly addictive snack, that I cannot get enough of.