Thai Fruits: A Peculiar Fashion Show
When exploring Bangkok, exotic and unfamiliar foods greet you at every corner. In the extreme heat, fruit can be a delightful source of fluids and nourishment. If only we knew what some of the fruits were and how to eat them! The juice stalls will usually mix and serve them with an over-generous helping of ice and sugar-water. For pure taste, eat the fruit raw (you can add the local-style spice mix of salt, sugar and chilly) from one of the countless stalls and carts in streets up and down the city. Or visit one of Bangkok’s fruit markets, for example the humongous Saphan Khao Fruit Market (reached by bus number 2, 59, 60, 79 or 511, or by taxi), or opt to travel outside of Bangkok where on both sides of highway 2 there is the Klong Dong Fruit Market (between Bangkok and Korat (Nakhon Ratchasima); those who embarked on this trip recommended it highly).
What follows is a little competition in looks and flavour, as judged by the author of this article.
Dragon Fruit (Gao Mung Gorn)
has to be my winner for looks – the spectacularly pink, otherworldly looking skin. This fruit comes from a cactus plant and I prefer its looks to its taste, which is much like that of a diluted kiwi. It’s peeled easily and can be eaten with a spoon or added to fruit juices and shakes.
is the one you see depicted on hotel posters, next to the no smoking signs. It is forbidden in many establishments and not allowed on international flights due to its putrid smell. With this one, the rule ‘you’ll either hate it or love it’ strongly applies. The aroma has been described as that of rancid sewage. Delightful. But hey, some North Europeans eat rotten fish as a delicacy.
is hailed as the healthiest of all fruits, but is not well recognized outside of Thailand. You peel away its dark purple skin and eat the juicy flesh, which tastes somewhat similar to peaches. Mangosteen looks like a little ball-shaped flower with green petals at the bottom of the flower-head.
has to be mentioned for its role in producing one of Thailand’s most delicious desserts: mango sticky rice. Mango can be eaten ripe or unripe, depending on the variety, but it’s the ripe one that’s used with sticky rice and coconut cream.
Then it’s the humble looking Guava (farang) which I’ll mention as its name in Thai is the same word they use to refer to foreigners. It was introduced to Asia from the West Indies and Central America, hence the ‘foreign’ name. It’s a fruit readily available from street vendors
Last but not least I have to give credit to the young coconut, the elixir of life. Hollywood divas might be paying $4 for a tiny carton of old and chemically preserved coconut water (believed to help maintain youthful looks), but in Thailand you can treat yourself to it at every corner, every day, several times a day, for a few Baht. And it’s beautifully chilled on ice! Include it in your diet as it contains essential electrolytes. And it’s more ecological and sterile to drink a freshly opened coconut than it is to buy yet another bottled water which was treated with ozone and unhealthy reverse osmosis.
Your body will thank you.