Singapore Adventure

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Fruits of Paradise IV
by venitha

We recently spent a very pleasant evening with Gretchen, my sister-in-law's sister, who is welcome to visit us anytime she likes since she brought me Celestial Seasonings tea. Yay! We enjoyed the view and the sunset from our rooftop, munching fresh rambutans and guavas as an appetizer to a posh Indonesian dinner on the river. Jim and I were glad to be reminded of how exotic the local fruits seemed to us only a few weeks ago; we are no longer tourists here! Gretchen and her friends liked the rambutan but were ho-hum on the guava.

Here are our lastest exploits:
  • Chikku. Fresh fruit is a popular snack, and food counters sell many varieties on a stick. We both liked this chikku, perfectly ripe and much better than the one we tried last month. Sweet in an earthy way, like an apricot, but without the hint of bitterness, it melted in my mouth. Now if I can just figure out how to get the ones in the store to ripen as tastily.

  • Tamarind soda. Fruity sodas replace the endless cola varieties available in the US. Now I know if you have only seen pictures of tamarind and not the real thing, you would expect this drink to be the equivalent of - I'm just gonna say it - a smashed turd milkshake. Happily, however, our tamarind soda was just like a cherry soda, only, of course, tamarind flavored. The first sip was quite tentative thanks to the smashed turd milkshake image, but Jim said it could easily grown on him.

    We were tempted by a similar soda labelled soursop on one side, but we treated it like a hot potato when we saw the other side, labelled durian belenda. We are very clear on the fact that anything involving durian is not something we want to eat. Later, our Malay dictionary revealed that durian belenda is actually just Malay for soursop. I'm now a bit suspicious of soursop in general, but I'll keep an eye out for this soda in the future. Jim will try it. He'll eat anything. Hey, Mikey!

  • Jack fruit. We've been anxious to try this ever since we saw trees bearing it on a trek around MacRitchie Resevoir. Its similarities to durian in appearance and delivery make you think twice, and this reluctance is unfortunately justified. Nowhere near as vile as durian, it still smells a bit, well, off. Kind of crunchy, kind of rubbery, kind of bland, kind of suspiciously musky. I ate one piece and had an It's fine, but I don't want any more. Ever. reaction. Jim stopped after one bite saying that it had the distinct feel of something that would stick with you, though it wasn't odious. High praise, indeed.
We leave for Bangkok this afternoon, so perhaps the next installment along these lines will be Edible Insects of Paradise. Well, actually, there are things Jim won't eat, so probably not, but please stay tuned anyway.