One of the main reasons why I travel, is to visit countries and people with vast cultural differences , to experience beautiful landscapes I cannot find in my own country and to eat the foods the world has to offer. I love to visit the market places and be amazed by fruits and vegetables I have never seen before. Especially in tropic environments there are a lot of strange and wonderful fruits to discover.
Here are some amazing, and a little weird, fruits I have encountered while traveling through South East Asia.
Dragon fruit (Pitahaya)
This exotic fruit has the skin of a dragon (so I am told, no dragons around to actually verify). They are vibrant pink and green on the outside and soft and fleshy on the inside. The flesh can be white or pink with a million black seeds. It is super sweet and good and I could eat them all day. I once saw a dragon fruit in Germany that cost 4 euro a piece. It is better to eat them in the country where they grow. Better for the environment and it leaves a bit of the magic of the unknown.
Snake Fruit (Salak)
If I ever saw a strange fruit, it is the snake fruit. The skin is fairly thin and easy to peel. The inside looks sort of like a white fig, with several compartments of firm, almost apple like flesh. Inside is a large inedible seed.
This infamous fruit is heavy and spiky and looks more like how I would picture the skin of a dragon would look like. It certainly has the smell of a dragon's ass. Hate it, or love it. There is apparently no middle ground. The fruit is banned in many public places in Asia and there are signs that will tell you. The flesh inside that is actually edible, looks like two giant shriveled up kidneys. If you do not want the smell, but like the flavor, you can also buy a variety of durian sweets.
On the outside, jack fruit looks similar to Durian, only less spiky. It is a large, yellowish green fruit with a rough, thick skin. The skin is cut open en inside are pockets with yellow fruits that are a bit shiny. The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked in a stew. It is an excellent meat substitute, because the flesh is meaty and holds together well during cooking. Bring a wheelbarrow if you are planning to buy your own jack fruit and take a few hours to peel. Luckily, many stalls sell jack fruit ready-to-eat, but unfortunately wrapped in plastic and Styrofoam.
The pomelo is similar to a grapefruit, only bigger and green on the outside. The inside can be red or yellow/white. The flesh is juice and its bite is sweet and almost crispy-juicy. If you have ever tried to peel a grapefruit, you know how much work it is to peel a pomelo, as it is about 4 times bigger. But, if you have bought a good one, it is definitely worth the work. In most market places you can buy them whole, or ready peeled.
The Rambutan is a pink/red fruit with a hairy exterior. It is not very big, about the size of a small plum. Its flesh is white and soft, with a large pit inside, kind of like a lychee. The taste is very sweet, but not distinctive. They are easy to peel with your hands. Cheap and easy fruit on the go.
The global market place means we get to benefit from a lot of fruits and vegetables from other countries, that would otherwise be completely unknown to us. Fortunately, there are some fruits who remain a little mysterious and are a real treat to discover when you travel to Asia. If you ever find yourself in South East Asia, give these strange fruits a try.