I may criticize Thailand’s obsession with sugar, but I have to admit that I like to hit the proverbial sugar cube pretty hard, too. I just happen to prefer my sugar hit in the form of fructose (read: fruit), because I can convince myself that I’m being “healthy.” Whether this is “true” or a “lie,” no country does brilliant, fruity abundance like Thailand. In fact, they produce such a variety of fruit that I couldn’t fit it all in one blog post. Instead, I narrowed the fruit field using a painstaking method that is typical of my careful nature: I opened my fridge and took pictures of the fruit that was already there. All you mangosteen lovers will just have to sit tight.
I’m going to organize my fruity fact finding in a highly scientific fashion: we’ll start with fruit that is “normal” in my opinion, and move on to fruit that is more “freakish”/weird.
Bananas grow all over the place in Thailand. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I can see some banana trees (?) growing in the sludgy canal next to my balcony. There are many different varieties available, but overall, they tend to be smaller than what is typically sold in the west. Maybe we just haven’t hit our stride yet, but I can’t say that I’m in love with Thai bananas – I find them a bit tough.
Thai pineapple is the stuff that dreams are made of. I have never tasted better pineapple in my life – it leaves the fabled Hawaiian pineapple in the dust. It’s so sweet that it makes my braces ache. I usually buy it from street vendors, because it’s already cut up, but sometimes, I’ll get really ambitious, and buy a whole pineapple. We all know who actually ends up cutting it…
Longan fruit is similar to lichi. It’s a jelly-like fruit with a pit in the centre, and it’s sweet and bland. It looks like a cow’s eyeball (in my imagination, at least), and feels about the same. Todd is addicted to these.
I had tasted passion fruit in drinks before I moved to Thailand, but I had no idea what the fruit actually looked like. It is a little underwhelming, on the outside at least. It looks like the ugly purple potatoes my parents used to grow in their garden. The inside is much more interesting – the colours are intense, and the texture is intriguing, if a little off-putting (think mucus). The flavour is tropical (how is that for a descriptor) and sour.
Dragon fruit is the opposite of passion fruit – the outside is fascinating, but the inside is a little bland. They are the same shade as Bangkok taxis – impossibly pink. The white, speckled inside is the edible part. It is pleasant, if a little bland (sort of like Canadian culture ;)). I like to put chunks of this in my porridge, and sometimes I can’t even tell it’s there.
And last, but definitely not least, snake fruit. This is in close contention with mangosteen for the tremendous honour of being my favourite new fruit. The outside of the fruit is spiky and threatening – I still have slivers from my last over-indulgence. The inside tastes like ambrosia from heaven. Or to provide a more relatable metaphor, like Starburst candy. The fruit has a big pit in it, but even that tiny piece of flesh is worth the painful peeling process.
I think Thailand has a few culinary sins to atone for (sugar, *ahem*), but their wondrous fruit goes a long way in making amends.