On their long journey to the bountiful shore which would later become the Harbor, the first Korso settlers traveled across the vast steppes with little more than the clothes on their back. Along the way, they were sustained by the humble Lantern Fruit. During the first blackouts, the fruit’s bioluminescence guided travelers through the darkness and to safety and served as a source of comforting light to families huddling in their newly built homes. The fruit’s husk came in handy as the travelers constructed their new dwellings, and could be fashioned into various tools and containers. And of course, its pulp was simmered into savory stews and all sorts of dishes—when the fruit wasn’t simply being eaten raw, that is. Some scholars argue that without this useful and easy-to-grow food source, the fledgling civilization of Harbor would have succumbed to famine in those first few harrowing years. With the availability of other materials, many practical uses for the gourd have since fallen out of common practice.
However, the Lantern Fruit is still one of Owai-6’s most recognizable staple plants, and Alurizians still commemorate its importance by carving the gourd into decorative works, which hang cheerfully in the streets of Harbor, B’haddu, Torini, and the like. However, the Lantern Fruit has recently become the topic of discussion for another reason: its impending recategorization. Owai-6’s beloved “fruit” may not be a fruit at all. The recent public debate began when one notable voice in the culinary world, Chef Sapid Sizzle, took to Chatter to offer up a different perspective—with a side of salt! In a seemingly casual recipe post, Sizzle wrote:
"Ah, the humble Lantern Fruit. While we may not rely on it as totally as we once did, this ingredient still finds its way into many of Owai's signature dishes. No Korso fine dining restaurant worth its five-star rating would be caught without Lantern Fruit bisque, and no street vendor worth their salt would neglect to carry Lantern Fruit slush in the hot summer months. But I’ve always thought it odd that though the Lantern Fruit is such a popular staple of our home, many people just simply get it wrong. Through my many years of experience in both the kitchen and garden, I can tell you that not once have I looked at one of these and thought “fruit.” It’s a vegetable."
In the rest of the post, Sizzle went on to describe a labor-intensive dish that involved fermenting, simmering, and flambé-ing Lantern Fruit peel, with a final result that barely tasted of Lantern Fruit at all. But although his recipe never quite garnered much attention, his assertion about the true nature of Lantern Fruit blew up overnight, prompting even the ARC Greenhouse’s official Chatter account to comment: “It’s a fruit. Trust us, we’re scientists.”
The matter was later complicated when many Chatter users pointed out certain botanical features of the Lantern Fruit plant: such as the fact the gourds lack true seeds! A win for Team Veggie, which was also bolstered when users dug up a research paper that seemed to outline further inconsistencies with standard botanical classification guidelines. The resulting scrutiny prompted the paper’s author to comment: “Guys, I was a grad student when I wrote this and I finished it literally overnight so I wouldn’t fail BIO 20010, so please stop showing up at my house with microphones because I truly have no comment.”
But it seems the people of Owai-6 do in fact want a final answer when it comes to our favorite gourd, and with the Twilight Carnival fast approaching, there is no denying this topic will be become dinner table talk for hundreds of thousands of Alurizans. With pressure mounting to get to the bottom of this mystery, the ARC Greenhouse has announced, in collaboration with Sizzle’s Café, a competition open to the public!