other than the scintillating milk fruit I told you about just a while ago, we also got the chance to visit a sort of village hall where we were treated to some local fruit and a musical performance – a couple of duets accompanied by some traditional instruments. on the platter were a couple slices of watermelon, baby thin-skinned raja bananas, longans, jumbo or water apples, and I think I might have missed out one or two – but we also leapt at the chance to try a local durian when our guide told us there were some available.
the other fruits were included in the trip, but the durians we had to pay extra for – not too expensive but we barely touched it after having a seed each. the durians had a strange sort of texture, like a taut skin over a very watery flesh – unlike the creamy, dense, unctuous flesh that characterizes the popular variants in singapore. the taste was likewise watery, with barely any sweetness and just a faint whiff of a durian. it was rather difficult to eat, actually, and I don’t think I finished the piece that I took.
this probably does explain why singaporeans hunt for specific variants of durian (as does my family), and why the good ones cost quite a bit – there is a great possible variance of taste, and for such a calorific fruit, the flavour ought to be well worth the indulgence.
p.s. if you don’t like durians, make sure you ask a well-informed singaporean to bring you to one! the best ones are undeniably delicious (and I don’t even eat much myself).
bet that got your attention. this isn’t anything so risqué, really – just a tropical fruit with a green rind and white flesh, and milky white sap that oozes out as you stick a spoon into it.
we were brought to a villager’s family home, where they grow these trees in abundant – the elderly matriarch of the house took a pole-mounted net, stuck it up the trees and grabbed us a couple of ripe specimens (while I frantically googled these fruit after our guide mentioned its very suggestive name) and very proficiently threw them into a basket. these fruit grow on tall trees, and look sort of like a very smooth green orb, a little like a smooth-skinned guava.
you slice them into half, stick a metal spoon around the inner circumference (where ripe flesh meet the rind), swipe your spoon around neatly to eject a hemisphere of fruit, then spoon bits to eat, spitting the seeds out as you go. the taste of the fruit is a little like a custard apple, really kind of mild, while the texture is a little like a silky mangosteen. a very interesting fruit, and my dad caught onto it very quickly, finishing quite a few right there and then. I personally found the experience a little strange – but it’s more a visual reaction than a flavour one: I found the white sap coming out a little unsettling, almost like cutting into actual flesh (I think my mind makes far too much of the name of this thing). didn’t stop me from having two-and-a-half of these milk fruit though.
do get one if you come across them; it was only after this excursion that we realized we had seen quite a few of these in the ben thanh market, very large, perfect green spheres sold with a bit of stalk and a leaf. let me know how you like them if you’ve ever had a go!
the last of three posts on the local market, and it’s such a peek into their lives, isn’t it?
I highly recommend a walk through a local market near you if you’re ever on holiday – they reveal interesting things about the people that you don’t get to see at the typical tourist-packed sightseeing spots, and they also make you think hard about the way you eat. I’m pretty proud of the fact that almost all the food I eat is wholesome and freshly prepared – courtesy of mum + grandma + an interest in cooking and the fact that the asian culture places lots of importance on home-cooking-and-eating – and seeing all these fresh groceries continually renew my appreciation for them.
this appears to be a rather meat-centric post – totally by accident – as compared to the vegetables in the last one. it was completely mortifying to my mother that they were handling raw meat so casually – laid out on trays perilously close to the ground, handled by shopkeepers without gloves (though more worrying was the seeming lack of a tap or handwashing mechanism. my mother is pretty prone to shouting out “poisonous!” from miles away when any of us show an indication to touch something – usually fruit on a tree – so perhaps you won’t be likewise alarmed by this almost careless regard for sanitised food handling.
now, if I were disappointed by the lack of exuberant color in the floating market – it was more than amply compensated by the local land market that we had a chance to visit. I’m not a wet-market sort of person; I ashamedly am much better at farmer’s markets or supermarkets. it’s not that I can’t bear to see carcasses and things like that, but rather that I truly appreciate a high level of hygiene, and wet markets are a little too wet – tautology, perhaps – for my comfort. I make exception on holiday though, when they are the best conduit from which to see how local people live and eat, and offer a quick immersion into their lives and community.
this is a first of three posts – mainly because the market was so large, and because I very much enjoyed my walk through here, and it might be useful to you as an introduction to asian markets and groceries!
this was a pretty muted floating market at cai be, along the mekong delta that we visited while on our short two-day stay at the lodge – not the colourful women-in-hats-with-fruit-and-flowers-on-small-boats sort of scene we (and perhaps you) were expecting when you hear something as evocative as a floating market.
this is the first of a set of posts I have on a side trip we took from ho chi minh to stay at the mekong delta. after years of only eating-and-shopping/tailoring in this city – not that those are insignificant activities to us – we decided to try something new, so I booked us on a two-day stay at the mekong lodge (their website here).
we stayed in one-storey bungalows along the mekong lodge, did a bit of guided sightseeing and local-eating, went out to see a local floating market and how some traditional delicacies were made – and let’s start with some pretty photos from the trip we took to a bee farm nearby.