Monday, March 7, 2011

Bali Food - Tropical Fruits Part 1

 I simply can't get enough of the local fruits.  Even a banana tastes so much better than a banana....And it's not just me romanticizing things because of the beautiful surroundings, they really do taste better!

Tropical fruits in Bali are refreshingly satisfying, but more importantly, they are fresher than fresh.  I think it may have something to do with lack of refrigeration at the markets and perhaps in many homes.  Therefore everything is harvested just in time for selling, and bought just in time for using. Or so I've been reading. At any rate, they are the freshest tropical fruits I've had in a long time.

I find myself naturally gravitating toward these wonderfully nutritious treats.  Any time of day.  It feels like I'm on an unplanned spa detox, or something, because I've lost all interest in french style breads & pastries, cheeses, and even wine. (Yes these items are available here in my hotel, at the expat grocery stores, or at specialty stores/cafés).  I just have no taste for them.  Anyone who knows me well might find that hard to believe, but with so many fruit choices and fruit juices at hand, I tell you it's easy to do.

Here is a sampling of some local fruits, many of which I tried for the first time:

The Rambutan, or sometimes called the hairy red fruit.  It reminds me of a lychee but not quite so juicy.  The flavor is great however.  I love it & recommend trying it.  The "hairs" are not as prickly as they might seem.  And it's quite easy to open up.  I used a knife just to see, but you can easily peel it and pop it into your mouth.  Just be careful not to eat the pit. 

The Salak, or snakeskin fruit, is a rather exotic looking thing.  Who would ever guess you'd find a fruit inside that hard looking armoured exterior?  It's not a soft fruit.  In fact, it's crunchy and kind of hard.  The texture almost reminds me of a clove of garlic.  In fact, it looks like a clove of garlic on the inside, but luckily tastes nothing like it.  It has more of a nutty taste with a citrus acidity.  Each of the white bulbs contains a big brown pit which is not edible.  I find this fruit interesting.  I don't know what you could do with a salak other than to eat it as is....but I certainly appreciate it, even if it's not the first fruit I would grab from the fruit basket (that honor goes to passion fruit...)    

Orange Peel Passion Fruit - simply amazing.  So fresh;  so fragrant.  In Paris, I can buy passion fruit (with a dark red peel) at the légumerie and the vendor will pick out the wrinkle skinned ones because those are the ripest.  Here, that's not been the case.  The skins have been smooth & fresh looking.  If you're not familiar with passion fruit, simply cut them in half and scoop out what's inside.  The fruit is actually a gelatinous kind of liquid with seeds.  The liquid is divine and the crunchy seeds are edible.  All together, it is outrageously good.  The perfum of the fruit is delicate and hard for me to describe.  You must taste one for yourself.  In this variety, the liquid is a pale grey color and the seeds are a darker shade of that.  You can see the uncut, whole fruit in the top photo - it might look like an orange, but it is a passion fruit.  And by the way, they are super light weight.

Yellow Peel Passion Fruit - here the very smooth outside peel is a pale yellow color, the gelatinous liquid is yellow, and the seeds are dark.  This variety also tastes divine.  This particular one was very juicy, and slightly acidic....making it very good!  The little white nubbies inside are really soft and pliable which is a nice mechanism for protecting the delicate fruit inside. It's no wonder that passion fruit finds its way into many dessert and pastry delicacies...

More tropical fruits from Bali to follow later on...