Thursday, July 29, 2010

Luxuriating in the Tropical Fruits of Bali

The array of fruits in a tropical paradise is truly astonishing. I tried as many as I could and photographed most of them. Let me run them down for you.

Banana flowers. I saw them growing and was able to try them in a dish called Pusah bin mesantan, Banana Flowers with Fresh Coconut Milk and Balinese Spice. I found them in Berkeley at the Berkeley Bowl just in case I get a hankering for them.

Durian, the so-called stinky fruit, isn’t allowed in most public places. However, the ones that I spotted in Bali were at a roadside store comparable to a 7-Eleven. So go figure. There was no distinctive odor to them. They seem to have strong advocates—but most people say that it is an acquired taste. Perhaps more accurately an acquired smell.

Jackfruit is a very starchy fruit and can be used both cooked and uncooked. In salad form I had Lawar bebek which is Young Papaya and Jackfruit with Shredded Duck. We made Kare tahu dan tempe, Curry of Tofu and Soybean Cake in the first cooking class and included jackfruit which we had purchased earlier in the market.

Mangosteens are housed in a purplish shell which needs to be cracked open to reveal a soft garlic clove-shaped fruit with the texture of a lichee and a similar flavor. They are just delicious to eat out of hand, as Stephanie will attest.

Passion fruit, on the right side of the plate, looks a lot like a greenish orange on the outside. But once you break it open, it is quite different indeed. Filled mostly with black seeds held together with a mucous-like substance, they are far more tasty than they seem at first glance and are well worth a try. The hotel spa gave us small glasses of passion fruit sorbet following massages our last day in Bali. It was perfect.

A red pineapple was growing at the side of the water channel on our trek through the rice paddies. I would never have expected to see a pineapple growing in that location, much less a red one. But there you are.

Snake fruit in the lower left hand corner of the plate has a brownish mottled crackly skin which is easily peeled. You can  barely see it in the photo so you'll have to trust me that you can tell immediately why it is called a snake fruit. The lobed fruit sections inside are sweet with a texture somewhat akin to an apple.

Small pink water apples appeared on the grounds of our hotel one morning after a windy storm moved through during the night. Made, our guide from the Ubud hotel, had explained that they were the fruit of choice for kids when he was growing up, but once Washington State apples started being imported, the kids spurned the water apples for the imports.

Watermelons, cantaloupes, papayas, bananas, and regular golden pineapples are all readily available and were served to us every morning for breakfast, along with the more exotic fare. Mangos grow in Bali but were out of season so we didn’t see a one. This bowl of fruit was our dessert the last night---along with coconut milk ice cream.

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