Fruits of south east asia!

I forget how I found it, but for some reason I stumbled upon this page of Thai (or more generally, south east Asian) fruits. A bunch of them are really obvious ones (mango, banana, coconut…), but a handful of them are ones I’ve never even heard of. Naturally, I have to try them all.

I mean, isn’t that kind of weird? I like to think I’ve at least heard of most of the major fruits, vegetables, and animals. I don’t mean that I’ve heard/tasted/seen literally all of them, but I usually think that the ones I haven’t heard of are just some small variant of one I already know. Like, if you learn about a blood orange, it’s cool, and yeah, a little different… but not mind blowingly different than a regular orange. It looks about the same aside from the red flesh, and tastes pretty similar. If you hear about moon bears, they’re…basically kinda weird black bears. You get the point.

So it’s pretty crazy to me that there’s something that’s really different than what I know. I remember watching Gremlins for the first time a short while ago and thinking it’s hilarious that the dad brings back this previously unheard of creature from the ~~exotic far east~~ that can’t get wet, can’t be exposed to bright light, and fucking sings melodically, and they just take it in stride. Like, if that happened in real life, you would be terrified and freaking out, tearing the skin off your face.

Anyway, so here are the ones I’ve tried so far, and then I’ll add the ones I haven’t at the end, so I can update them if I ever get to. (NB: I wrote this at many different times, hence the weird tenses/etc.)

Durian

Ahhh, Durian, the stereotypical “weird SEA fruit”. From the outside it looks pretty freaky, definitely alien:

Adding to the weird factor, the parts you cut out to eat look a lot like images I’ve seen of fat removed from a human corpse, yellowish, squishy, and wrinkled:

I’m just gonna quote that site linked above:

Surely the most controversial fruit on earth, durian is to its fans a rich, unique tasting fruit, and to its critics, a putrid-smelling, lame duck of a fruit. Its extremely strong aroma – which some say resembles rotting fruit down a blocked drain – let alone its aggressive look, is enough to put many off tasting it altogether. Others, swear by it. Its the most expensive of all Thai fruits and actually banned, yes banned, from some public places, hotels and on planes.

Pretty accurate. This tasted like ass. Also, it was strangely expensive: a pack of the other fruits I tried of the same size were all 30-50 THB, and this was like, 150 (~$5). I don’t know why people like it, and it makes me uncomfortable.

update: Okay, I had it again in Ho Chi Minh City after originally writing the above, and actually liked it a little better. I still won’t say I like it, but it was definitely interesting and not instantly revolting. It definitely has a unique texture and just a combination of tastes I haven’t experienced with anything else. One funny story: like it said above, a common thing tourists love to giggle about is the “no durian” signs in public transport in some places. When we got the durian in HCMC, we brought it into a restaurant we were going to (we were hungry, okay!). The girl who bought it asked the waiter if it was okay to eat in there, and he said yes. We opened it and began eating, and after about a minute, a pregnant woman and her husband had to switch tables. The waiter came over and told us, sorry, he was wrong, but we really couldn’t eat it in here. We got to be part of the problem!

 

Rose Apple

This was fun. I’m not gonna say it was amazing or anything, but it had a taste and consistency kind of like a melon. I’m not raving about it, but I’d eat it again. I originally heard it as “nose apple”, which isn’t that crazy given its shape but… yeah I guess rose apple makes more sense. I unfortunately don’t have a picture of a whole one up close, but you get the idea:

 

 

Jackfruit

This was a hidden surprise! It actually looks pretty similar to a durian from the outside, but inside it’s very different. This is what I’m talking about with totally alien fruits. The part you eat is this weird lobe, surrounding one big seed. It was juicy and tasty, slightly similar to an orange. The lobes were kind of “dry” on the outside, like the outside of a pepper, but the inside was juicy and wet. A good one for sure.

They actually sell dried jackfruit chips in most countries here, which should probably be illegal because it’s more addicting than goddamn crack. I later bought a huge chunk of one in the Philippines, and since it was straight from the fruit, it actually had this very sticky white sap like stuff on it that was nearly impossible to wash off my hands. I never appreciated that they must have cleaned the lobes off before!

 

Custard Apple

I just got to try this one today! Another truly alien fruit, unlike any others I’ve had before. It kind of looks like a dragon from its outer surface.Honest to its name, it really does have a custard-like texture, and is very delicious. It’s sweet and a little tangy, and the flesh very near the skin is even salty! I had heard good stuff about this one, but hadn’t been able to buy it for a while, since maybe it was out of season or something. Luckily, today I passed a fruit stall and found it! Maybe they are out of season, because this one doesn’t look as weird as the pictures I had seen, but it was nonetheless delicious and lived up to its hype.

Actually, I wrote the above when I first found it in Laos. Since then I’ve seen it in every country and much bigger. You can eat them when they have more of a “cuttable”, firm consistency, or wait until they’re really ripe, and then they are a lot more like…dun dun dun, custard. One of my new favorites. It tends to be a little expensive (relative to fruits out here, anyway), typically costing $1-1.50 or so.

 

Sapodilla

Holy shit my little gem in the rough. This nondescript round, brown little fruit tastes like pure brown sugar. Another I never heard of, but pure deliciousness. Note: you have to get decent ones; the first ones I had in Pai were great, the cut and packaged ones in Luang Prabang were dry and sucked. The ones I got in Vietnam were much bigger and very good.

Note: if you get them unripe, they don’t just taste not as good, they taste truly awful and give your mouth this terrible prickly feeling. The inside will look greenish rather than brown and it will be too firm.

 

Mangosteen

I think I had actually been seeing this one for a while, but it’s so nondescript and looks like several other fruits that I just passed over it! (I probably should have just googled image searched it…) I finally “found” it in Hoi An, Vietnam.

While the outside looks pretty dull, you cut it open and the thick skin/shell (that you can’t eat, it tastes awful) is a pretty pink.

The edible part comes in these white translucent lobes that are very, very tasty.

A little tangy, kind of like…kiwi maybe? Definitely one I’ll get again! Though I’ll say that it seems to have a very low (work:amount of food you get) ratio.

 

Snakefruit

Hot DAMN, I did not think I was going to find this one, but then I randomly happened upon it in a local market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which pretty much made my day (I’m easy to please I guess?). About 50 cents got me more than I could eat in a sitting. Looking at it, you see why it gets its name, cause it has a thin, papery snakelike skin, made of teensy scales. Once you tear this off, there are two relatively dry lobes inside (surrounding by weird fluff and stuff). I tentatively bit into one of them the first time, since I had no idea if there was a pit or not. And there is! In fact, it’s most of the mass of the lobe, which is annoying. Ohhh, the taste though. It’s this delicious, pretty sour but very sweet flavor, unlike any other fruit I’ve had!

 

Star apple

Like the mangosteen, I had seen these for ages but had never tried them because they looked so nondescript! They are either purple or green (depending on the ripeness I think?):

Finally a friend got them:

They were really nice, actually. They definitely had a very mild taste, but in a way that would let you eat lots of it, cause it wasn’t overwhelming. I’m having trouble describing it now, though I can still smell it in my mind (maaaannnnn). Inside, they had a pit in each section, but otherwise kind of didn’t have a distinct “you can/can’t eat this part” boundary. The jelly part in the middle was the best part, but as you got closer to the rind it because less sweet and more bitter, and actually had a similar sap type stuff to the jackfruit I mentioned.

 

Soursop

This is one of those really bizarre looking ones. On the outside, it can look kiiiinda like a custard apple, but usually is more oblong, with no real “lobes”. I was told by a local that they’re not great to eat on their own (being too…wait for it, sour), but are pretty good filler for shakes, which I started seeing offered more in Vietnam.

I actually can’t find good pictures I took of the one I devoured, but here’s the main idea:

 

Buddha’s hand

Apparently also called a citron. I began seeing this a lot in Vietnam (I think?). It looks reaaaally strange and I hadn’t tried it yet, so naturally I bought one. It has the texture exactly of a lemon, but in the weirdest shape possible (I guess they thought this looked like Buddha’s hand? Poor guy). I actually didn’t end up trying it, because I lost mine before I could try it, but according to Wikipedia, it’s not really for eating anyway; come to think of it, I don’t think I ever saw people eating them, but mostly as decorations or offerings at shrines.

They actually get a lot weirder looking than these, with long spindly “fingers”.

 

Longan

Honorable mention #1 because they’re pretty similar to lychees. They taste good, though. They seem to be sold all over the place.

 

Pomelo

Another honorable mention because they’re pretty similar to grapefruit, but bigger and…firmer? And not quite as citrus-y, so you can eat them without making funny faces. Pretty tasty though. They have a pretty huge “husk” that’s green:

and they look pretty similar to grapefruit, you could actually see them in the lower left of the durian picture:

 

Rambutan

This is a little like dragonfruit to me. Not in the taste, but in the fact that it looks so alien and bizarre (I mean, those hairs on the outside?), yet is pretty mundane inside. It’s tasty, but basically yet another lychee variant.

 

 

Welp, that’s all of them. I have tried all the fruits in the world.

HAHAHAH just kidding, there are still like a million weird fruits I’m discovering every day. At this point I’m not sure what I’d be surprised by. Maybe if it were like, some sort of fruit that screams while you eat it. Eh, probably not.

I still have no idea what this one is, in the center:

I’ll continue adding them as I go through my photos cause I’m sure there are some I missed!

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