The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

When Manoj came back from his trip to Brazil, he was all agog about the exotic fruit he had consumed in copious quantities in that country. He gave me a list of their names and I have forgotten every one of them. So I ensured that I snaggled a little foldout with the names of the exotic fruit of Thailand that I encountered on my recent trip there.

Not all of the fruit are native to Siam, of course, although some have grown there so long that they might for all intents and purposes be considered local. The Rose Apple, or Chompoo(ชมพู), is among them. It looks like a bell-pepper, has an apple-like flesh, and tastes of rosewater. Very delicate flavours. It's originally from Malaya, but is now available far more widely, including India.

Next is the frightful Dragon Fruit, or Kaew Mungkorn. Inside, it looks like an albino kiwi, all pale off-white with pink or black pinprick-like seeds. Its taste, though, is nothing like a kiwi or anything else on earth. Again, a rather delicate flavour; it is eaten by being scooped out of its skin. Aficionados would appreciate the fact that it is available throughout the year. [Photo from here.]

We move on to the hairy Rambutan (or Ngoh, เงาะ), whose red rubbery shell can be removed with a gentle knife-cut, to reveal a mildly sweet, succulent, translucent flesh. Very like a lychee, if not as sweet, what? It's a seasonal fruit: May to July.

The Long Gong, or Duku, is a fruit that grows (like grapes) in a bunch. A pale brown skin covers it; when removed, a translucent flesh is revealed, which is a bit tart. The seed is very bitter, so ensure you don't bite into it! This is another seasonal fruit: August to September.

The Sapodilla (or Lumut) tastes like figs and looks a bit like a papaya from the inside, though much smaller. Sweet and somewhat pungent, gritty, and (before fully ripe) honey-flavoured, it has a large seed which is not edible. The Thais like to carve up the meat into little sculptures. See here, for example. It is available all year.

The Longan (photo from here) resembles the lychee mightily, especially in its translucent flesh. Its shell breaks easily under a small pressure between thumb and finger and the very sweet, pinkish-white fruit is revealed. The Thais make several desserts out of this fruit with syrup or sticky rice. Available mainly between May and September.

And finally, we have the Mangosteen, which resembles neither a mango nor Bruce Springsteen. (Photo from here.) One breaks it open by prying gently with one's thumbs, cracking the rind along the ensuing crack. Its sap is a strong dye, so watch out! The fruit was considered sufficiently exotic at one time that Queen Victoria is said to have offered a reward to anyone who could get her some. And the sour-sweet rush of flavours on biting into it has been legendary for aeons. It is even recorded in Ayurveda, according to this article. Its season is June to October.


Szerelem said...

Right. You just mentioned most of my favourite fruits ever. Now I am hungry.

Unknown said...

Love mangosteens! Especially after a heavy feast on durians. Apparently, it helps to 'cool' down the system.

I remember picking up chompoo (known as jumbu in Singapore) on trees that lined the roads... and rambutans as well!

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