Recently a photo was posted on social media showing the price of Dragon Fruit in Sydney, Australia as 9 AUD for one piece of fruit. In Thailand, the same fruit currently sells for 1.92 AUD per kilo, which is about 4 or 5 of them.
Of course, this makes sense, market forces, carbon footprint, current issues with freight etc. etc. etc.
It also highlights the sadness that is restricted travel, for surely eating delicious new things is one of the best things about leaving home?
Never fear, armed with a list of goodies to try, you may even be able to find some of these exotic fruit varieties to indulge in at your local gourmet or specialty shop and if not, another excuse to pull out the passport when this plague finally passes.
Allow me a bit of personal indulgence for a moment. I originally hail from New Zealand, where tamarillos, which we then called ‘tree tomatoes’, were more common in my childhood than oranges or apples. In fact, there were so many, I remember complaining about eating them. Oh, the naiveté of youth. I want to go back and slap myself.
Tamarillos are native to South America but, somehow, New Zealand became a major producer in the game way back when. Climate has a lot to do with it. Tamarillos require a subtropical climate with a fair bit of rain. The flavour is tangy, with a sort of acidic sweetness to them and, omg, just so damned delicious. Like if a passionfruit and berries had a baby. You don’t really want to eat the very thin skin; it is sour. They taste nothing at all like tomatoes and are perfect on their own cut in half and scooped up in a spoon- or on ice cream or a pavlova. Drool.
These may be more familiar to you as a custard apple, and that is an excellent way to describe this fruit, because soursops have a kind of combination apple/pineapple flavour, but the texture of their flesh is reminiscent of a thick custard, particularly when they are very ripe.
They can be a bit messy to eat and the seeds are toxic, so avoid swallowing them, but don’t let any of that put you off.
Chilled soursop juice is one of the most refreshing things you can have on a hot, sticky day. You will find them all over Asia and the Caribbean and they pack a punch in tropical favours and creamy goodness.
If you have travelled to South-East Asia, you will have found a wide variety of fruit which all grow on trees and all look like little whitish balls when they are naked.
But they are not all the same. Here are the ones most people confuse.
Note that, when fully clothed, or when split in half, these are all different things.
Langsat is one of the white-ball fruit that looks like someone else, until you eat it.
The flavour of a langsat is halfway between a ripe grape and a grapefruit. Tangy and rich, with a firm flesh. On the outside they are kind of ugly, like a pale baby spud, but the flesh is so moreish that once you start peeling them, you will not be able to stop. They are primarily grown in Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia and they are seasonal. Interestingly, langsats are actually the fruit of a type of mahogany. Yes, langsat trees are from the family of mahogany wood trees. As a fruit, they make an excellent stand-alone snack or a fantastic addition to a salad.
And finally, feijoa.
Ah, be still my beating heart. Another one from my childhood. For oddly mysterious reasons, New Zealand has a habit of stealing fruit crops from South America and making them their own. Yes, climate does play a role, but Buena’s Aires and Auckland are not exactly on the same parallel. Having said that, feijoa production the NZ is remarkably mature.
Kiwis have been cultivated them as a commercial crop since 1920.
Unfortunately, because the fruit is so easily damaged, this is something you may need to travel to try.
Feijoas have a similar flesh to guavas, which is to say slightly gritty, and are known in South America as a ‘pineapple guava’, although there is no relationship between the two species.
Apart from its delicate flesh, soft jelly interior and the flavour of banana, pineapple and guava all in one mouthful, the best part of a feijoa is its scent.
Perfume of the highest order. Like you have entered the boudoir of a call girl you can’t afford, and you keep wanting to go back, even though her minder has beaten you up twice already.
Heady and heavenly, feijoas are a reminder that food is for pleasure, as well as for sustenance.
So now you have a list of fruit you need to add to your bucket list, it’s time to get ready.
And if you can’t get to the source, head on down to your local international food shops and start making some exotic fruity noise.