Hmmm..... A nectarine?
Well, Ok. ワッサ Wassa. But I'm sure in Aussie, that would be Wazza.
I was down at the farmer's market looking for early apple varieties (san (sun) tsugaru and shinano red are out) when I saw a group of women all in a fluster over what looked to be undersized peaches. Ehhh? Had to get a closer look and they were all walking away with armfuls of something the sign identified only as Wassa. Hmmm, wassa, wa-ssa. wa- 和? Japanese something?? Not to be left out I bought a bag and the lady at the register who loves my adventurous spirit (she sells me all the birds eye chillies on a 'buy one bag I'll give you the rest' basis. I really think I might be the only one here who eats them- she actually called me last time she got some in...) anyway, she told me the mysterious Wassa was a cross between a peach and a nectarine but couldn't enlighten me on the name. Now, I love both nectarines and peaches and have planted both but lost my entire crop to a whole range of nasty bugs and diseases this year so I was very happy to have my bag of Wassa.
Got home and- while road testing the Wassa- googled it. Ah haaaaaa.... the Wassa is a Nagano original. A natural (as in unassisted) hybrid that a Mr Nakamura stumbled upon while walking through his orchard one day. And the name? Well, Mr Nakamura is Mr Wataru Nakamura. His boyhood nickname was, yup, Wassa. So he went for a walk, found a brand new fruit by chance, named it after himself, got a patent for it and now sells it for big bucks online. It all sounds a little too good to be true to me but I'm not complaining because the Wassa is good!
How does it taste? Hmmm, kind of like a cross between a nectarine and a peach?
It has quite firm flesh even when ripe. It is juicy but not as annoyingly dribbly type juicy as a peach. I think the nectarine has lent texture, colour and fragrance to the mix but left most of the flavour to the peach.
I think it could really take off. I'm already planning my sign for the village entrance:
"Azusagawa: Welcome to Wazza country, mate"
And for the few tourists to this area who aren't snow starved Aussies: