Singapore Adventure

Monday, November 14, 2005

Fruits of Penang
by venitha

I'm back from Taiwan, where, tragically, there was not a single pineapple to be found. I'm not complaining, though; Taiwan's guavas are uncommonly sweet. As I survey my empty refrigerator today, wishing for something, anything, to magically appear, my mind is drawn back, however, to the new fruits we encountered in Penang. I'm not wishing any of these were now in my fridge, but I'd probably opt for them over yet another bowl of oatmeal. Well, maybe not the nutmeg.

  • Coconut. Large coconuts are a frequent and very popular refreshing drink option in outdoor markets, but Jim and I agree that the watery milk within is bland enough that it doesn't appeal beyond the novelty and the campy Gilligan's Island feel it invokes. The sea coconut [right] is equally bland, but maybe it's not really meant for eating. With a squishy exterior wrapped around a center of watery coconut milk, it is nature's very own squirt gun. Jim's insightful comment: breast implants. I wasn't all that disappointed when I accidentally squirted him.

  • Wax apple. Aren't these just irresistible? Pink and shiny and darn darn cute. I honestly wanted to dig my hands in and play with the entire bowl of them. Wax apples have an airy texture and a very light flavor, so they aren't all that fabulous on their own. But, of course, drenched in the sweet sludge and ground peanuts of a (the one below also contained pineapple, jicama, and cucumber), they were as delicious as they are cute.

  • Nutmeg. Penang is known for its nutmeg, available in oils and balms and juices, and I was pleased to find it also as a sweet, sold in bulk along with many other unidentifiable dried foods. When I asked the vendor what the difference was between the two bins of candied nutmeg, slightly different colors, that he carried, he replied, "This one's better." I had to laugh. Well, I guess I'll take some of that, then. Unfortunately, it wasn't better enough. It had such a very strong nutmeg flavor, obviously, that Jim and I both had one of those "Yeah, that was good, but I don't want anymore" responses after the first taste.

Never fear. I will eventually brave the Christmas carols infesting Cold Storage and restock the fridge. And I will eventually blog about Taiwan, the beautiful Taroko Gorge, and the best seafood I've ever had in my life. But not today.