Singapore Adventure

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Fruits of Paradise VII
by venitha

The six months of summer in Singapore are like

The eight months of summer in Singapore are like

The ten months of summer in Singapore are like

The usual weather in Singapore is like that first week of August in Wisconsin, the one when as kids, my sister and I laid on the floor in front of fans, moving as little as possible as we watched one soap opera after another. This last month, however, has been a refreshing change. Don't get me wrong: it's still miserably hot and humid. But it's like a week in late June in Wisconsin, the one when we played catch outside only because freedom from school was still so new and the lake temperature had not yet caught up to that of the muggy air.

The tropical fruits are even more sensitive to these subtle weather changes than I am, and rambutan and longan have given way to their rainy season cousins. Fortunately, pineapples and mangoes, our favorites here, appear to be in season year-round.

  • Dried Persimmons. I love fresh persimmons, so I had to give the dried ones a try. My first purchase, though, from an outdoor fruit stand, likely ruined them forever, as they were revoltingly infested with small flies and tiny wiggling white worms. Ewww. When I finally rallied myself to try them again, they turned out not to have been worth the effort, as they were mushy and grainy and browish-orange in a way far too similar to candied yams for comfort. Dredging them in powdered sugar, like those we saw in Penang, might help, but I'm going to stick with the fresh ones from now on.

  • Kumquats. Teeny tiny oranges, which seem like a good idea until you want to eat them. You can't seriously be expected to peel this thing? And it's got seeds, too? Sheesh! I enjoyed kumquats much more after I decided that the rind and the seeds were edible and just popped the whole thing in my mouth. It tastes like a not-very-sweet orange, though it has a nasty bitter aftertaste.

    A friend at work informed me that kumquats are popular for the Chinese New Year, which is coming up at the end of January, and he claimed that the best way to eat them is to mash them up and drink the juice. At the end of another hectic week at work, he gets no argument from me; mash up a bunch of them in the bottom of a rocks glass, add a spoonful of sugar and three inches of rum, and kumquats would rock.

  • Passionfruit. Jim warned me that his fellow breakfast buffet-ers in Hsinchu expressed a distinct lack of passion for the passionfruit, but for all I know, these same people probably enjoy bowls of fish floss, and anyway, how can I resist that name? From the outside, passionfruit looks quite boring, just a largish dark brown egg. But cut it open, and wow! You eat the slime-covered seeds, and they are soooooooour! Which, I happen to love. Yummy yummy yummy.

    Too bad it was so expensive ($2.50 for one) and yielded so little in the way of edible fruit. I'll surely buy another, though, if only so I can eat it the correct way; you're supposed to lop off one end like you would a soft-boiled egg and scoop out the insides with a spoon.