23 September 2008

Thinking of my sister

To make my homecoming easier after the birth of my daughter, my sister stocked my refrigerator with small containers of beautifully prepared fresh fruits. She assumed, correctly, that fresh fruit would make a perfect grab and go snack for a new, tired, nursing mom.

Today, as I prepared fresh fruit for my family, I was reminded of that wonderful gesture of love. So, thoughts of my sister, prompted me to share a few of Thailand's many exotic fruits that we're enjoying on a regular basis. 

The wildly brilliantly colored dragon fruit, native to South America, is grown with great commercial success in Thailand. And, they are at their plumpest and freshest, of course, before they are shipped around the world. So much so, in fact, that the few dragon fruit I've seen in the US don't even look like the same fruit. As you can see from the picture, it is a small football-like thing with "scales." Bright magenta with lime green tipping, the fruit's exotic skin is only the beginning. Peel back the skin like a tangerine and you're greeted with, depending on the variety, either a bright white flesh studded with tiny black edible seeds or a flesh the same color as the magenta skin. (Note: Unless you want people to question what you've been up to, don't cut a purple-fleshed dragon fruit and schedule a manicure, like I did, for the same day!) The taste of a fresh dragon fruit is earthy-- like a great aged red wine is earthy. And, the seeds pop like tiny little pieces of caviar as the white (or purple!) flesh gives way.

Another fruit that you may not have seen yet in the States is the mangosteen. Little purple globes, about the size of a golf ball, hold just a few white fruit segments inside. They take some work to pull apart, but inside you are rewarded with a taste that is unparalleled. Think about the cross between a mango, a sweet grape, a tiny burst of lime and, if you can imagine what warm sunshine might taste like, add a dash of that too. They make a nice one bite treat when you're up for a little bit of work in the shelling/peeling process.

Other fruits we have been loving, but aren't quite as exotic, are:
* Pineapples (Did you ever realize that there are lots of varieties? We have easy access to Phuket pineapple which is really golden and sweet, similar to the Hawaiian variety, and the Siriachan pineapple which is mellower with a bit of a honey flavor and a firmer texture.)
* Mangoes (Delicious! And, again, a ton of varietal choice here.)
* Papaya (These are the biggest I have ever seen, full of flavor, and the Red Lady variety with some rice on the side make for one of our family's favorite breakfasts.)
* Pomellos (Similar to a grapefruit, this has become my absolute favorite afternoon snack. Peel, remove the membrane on the sections and snack away!)
* Chiang Mai bananas (Small and a bit starchier than your typical variety, these are sold in small bunches for about 50 cents per bunch. The kids love them and they make for a great banana bread!)

So, here I am, in my Thai kitchen, missing and thinking of my sister. Four years after she prepared containers of fresh fruit to fill my refrigerator, my daughter is opening the fridge's door and removing a freshly prepared container for her snack this afternoon.

Cooking in Thailand, entry no. 14:
Fruit Salad
A spin on the classic, use whatever fruits you enjoy and have access to.

A selection of your favorite fruits, sliced in thin rounds or as uniformly as the shape of the fruit dictates (I like oranges, papaya and mango)
Juice of one large lime
1/8 cup Mint, chopped
1/8 cup Basil, chopped
black pepper

On a large plate, place your fruit in a flat layer, slightly overlapping the slices. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the fruit. Sprinkle with mint and basil and a grind of black pepper. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Looking forward to hearing your comment!