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Journeys

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Tropical Fruits and Where to Find Them

Savoring local fare when traveling is certainly a major part of any trip, but it need not be confined to restaurants and other eateries. The local markets are brimming with food items that often just cannot be found anywhere else..

Better than the Supermarket

Although many of your supermarkets give you the luxury of buying all types of “conventional” fruit year round, like a permanent summer, taste and texture cannot match being fresh from the tree or vine, because in many places nowadays fruit is grown for convenience and long shelf life, not for variety and taste. Even the opportunity of trying an exotic or rare fruit once in a lifetime is the best bargain on the face of the Earth, and often cannot be duplicated when we return home. Plus, you will never forget the experience.


Finding Fruit is Easy

Fruit is in excellent supply in Myanmar (Burma). When in the vicinity of fresh fruit being sold, you owe it to yourselves to try it. Finding exotic fruits in Myanma is easy, as long as you know what you are looking at.

Hunting down fruit in Myanmar can be a full-time pleasure in markets, roadside stands, or in nature itself. Pictures are the best way of identifying these treasures and once you have found ripe ones, sit under a shady tree with a sharp knife and enjoy, just like the locals do. As in all fruit, watch the seeds.

Below is a list of some of these fruits with their common names.


Fruits to Look Out For


Jackfruit – should not be mistaken with durian. First smell the fruit before cutting it as it has a distinct sweet and fruity aroma. The inside is very fibrous and the yellow portion around the seeds is eaten with a taste similar to eating a sweet banana. It is often used as a cooking ingredient. Eat one of these and you have had a meal.


Jentik – is a wild fruit and is eaten by breaking the hard outer shell with fingers. The edible portion is dark orange and is an amazing combination of being sweet and acidic at the same time.


Red Dragon Fruit – or pitaya, must be one of the prettiest fruits with its red skin and white pulp, and is from the cacti family. It has a mild sweet taste that can be compared to such fruits as watermelon or kiwi.


Mata Kuching
– is similar to the longan and it has an outer skin that is easily peeled away with fingers revealing its translucent interior around a black seed. It is a juicy, mid-sweet variety of fruit.


Santol
– is a fuzzy fruit, resembling a peach with the outer rind and pulp being eaten. Do not eat the seeds of this fruit as they can cause intense stomach upset. It is also used in cooking.


Wani mango
– is a mango with its characteristic peach-like texture, but this one has white pulp.


Langsat
– or duku, can grow wild and has a skin visually similar to kiwi but not edible. It’s a very tasty fruit with a sweet-sour mix, and is commonly eaten by biting a hole in the skin and sucking out the contents.


Sweetheart lychee
– this colorful and very popular red fruit has a sweet white pulp.


Tampoi
– a pale orange fruit with white pulp, deliciously tangy, that resembles garlic cloves in appearance.


Rambai
– a wild small yellow-brownish fruit that has white pulp and is sweet-acidic.


Malay gooseberry
– is not a gooseberry, but is juicy and quite acidic. Although it can be eaten raw, its sourness may be a deterrent.


Breadfruit
– related to the jackfruit (see above), it is used in many recipes and the sweet doughy pulp can be eaten raw as long as it is very ripe, otherwise it’s normally cooked.


Chico
– although not a native species, it is being grown with success and the pulp is light brown with a texture of pear and a sweet taste between being malty and maple syrup, but this fruit must be eaten when very ripe. Do not swallow the seeds as they have a hook that can get caught in the throat.


Mangosteen
– a delightful fruit with a juicy, fragrant white pulp that is very sweet, but also tangy, and with a fibrous texture that is eaten either by twisting it open, or slicing the skin. It has been referred to as the “queen of fruit,” as legend goes that Queen Victoria would bestow a knighthood on anyone who would bring her a fresh mangosteen.


Durian
– a highly versatile fruit, labeled the “king of fruit,” this large prickly variety has an edible custard-like pulp that is extremely fragrant, so much that many people find it overwhelming and descriptions of the odor have not always been complimentary, to the point of it being banned from some high-end restaurants and hotels.


Bilimbi
– often found wild, this fruit looks like a little cucumber, and is mostly used in cooking or served as a relish due to its acidity, although it is eaten raw with salt and spices.


Rambutan
– looks like a hairy red cotton ball and the white pulp is pleasantly sweet, sour and chewy and has a grape-like taste.


Snake Fruit
– or salak, is called that because of the snakeskin like appearance of the rind. Pinching an end exposes the pulp that looks like garlic cloves. Sweet and acidic, the texture is similar to apple and is either dry or moist.


Water Apple
– looking every bit like a cross between an apple and a pear, it often grows wild. The texture is not as dense as an apple, and taste is similar to a snow pear.


Craving something else? We've compiled a whole database of the best places to eat and drink in Yangon. Bon apetit!

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