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Greetings from Vietnam

Greetings from Vietnam

August 2007

I am taking a baking hiatus to vacation in SE Asia. Although I have enjoyed some fabulous cakes and cookies here, the best dessert is fresh tropical fruit. There is nothing more refreshing in hot sticky weather than ripe pineapple, guava, papaya, or even a juicy peach. There are lots of fruits I have never tried before. My new favorite is Rambutan, with its alien like tentacles. It looks more like a clown nose than a fruit, but has a juicy lychee-like center. I also enjoy dragonfruit and mangosteen. We just picked up a “custard apple” from the market, so I will let you know how that goes.

RAMBUTAN

This is a close-up of the inside of the Rambutan. I already ate the fruit in the middle, so it is not shown here.

Check out http://www.ranbutan.com/ for a complete guide to growing and eatting this fruit.

DURIAN

Durian. Also known locally as Dodol, this is the fruit that smells like dirty gym socks wrapped around really smelly cheese. It actually smelled worse in person than I expected after hearing about it on Anthony Bourdain. But surprisingly, I liked foods flavored with it. Except the beer with durian juice…. that was just gross.

What I love most about the durian are the signs at hotel, train stations and airports that you may not bring durian into the building (because of the smell). Yet there are tons of durian flavored candies, potato chips and other snacks if you can’t keep a slice on hand. Sometimes I had trouble telling the difference between durian and the the much nicer tasting Jackfruit, because they look kind of similar.

ORANGES
This guide is showing us an orange. What makes this fruit different than oranges in the US? It’s green. This is a ripe juicy orange.

(The slightly larger orange-colored citrus are actually pomelos, which are asian grapefruits.)

Just to the left of her hip you can see the bright pink and spikey dragonfruit. The inside is white with lots of little black seeds. At my first breakfast buffet I actually ate the rind because it looked more appetizing than the fruit. I won’t make that mistake again. (It was bitter like eatting too far down on a slice of watermelon.)

MANGOSTEEN
From top to bottom of this picture you see the pomelos, then pears, cherries in bags, grapes in bags (very expensive), rambutan, and then mangosteen at the bottom.

When you peel the slightly spongy mangosteen skin you find the fruit which has sections like an orange, but a totally different flavor.

There are much better pictures here: http://www.xango.com/learn/mangosteen.html

MARKETS

This is pretty typical of a fruit stand in hanoi. Although you can also get cheap and convienient snacks from the ladies that sell fruit out of hanging baskets. They will slice up pineapple, cut you a branch of longan, or haggle over anything else in season.

FLOATING SNACKSHOP

There are also some very entreprenurial women who will approach on boats in case you might like some fruit, a beer or a can of Pringles while swimming.

Hoi An has a little more room than the city for fruit and vegetable markets.


ART

In Ha Long Bay we saw some amazing fruit sculptures.

Posted in Musings and Inspiration, Travel.

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