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.)
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 (~1-1.50 or so.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
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”.
Honorable mention #1 because they’re pretty similar to lychees. They taste good, though. They seem to be sold all over the place.
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:
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!