Fruit’s great innit? It looks cool. It tastes fab, gives your intestine a decent bit of fruitcerise and helps flush out any stubborn internal cobwebs. What’s also super-top-nice about fruit in Vietnam is that the stuff’s seasonal. What with the availability of all kindsa fruit year round in the west, I wouldn’t be too surprised if there’s some study somewhere showing that British and American kids don’t actually know that fruit is seasonal. Whereas I’m fairly sure your average Vietnamese kid knows exactly when to find longans and litchis for sale.
I am British and as seasonally clueless as most of my compatriots. However, in Vietnam there’s a nifty way of finding out what’s a la mode at any given time. Take a walk down the street and see what’s on offer. If it’s on sale, it means it’s ‘in’ and it didn’t come from some Israeli kibbutz, a Californian growth hormone farm or the Windward Islands. These here grapes be in season right now and’ll set you back 12,000VD/kg.
This guy’s got a basket full of hairy, red chom chom (rambutan). You only find them during the rainy season – May to October(ish). They just recently started to appear on the streets. Binh Hoa, near Saigon, is where many of these fellas are grown. Crack open the hairy outer and there’s a sweet, white blob inside. 10,000VD/kg
Sau rieng (Durian) is the legendary stinker. Can’t quite see what all the fuss is about to be honest. It smells, but it’s really not that bad. I’m not a big fan of this gunky, creamy fruit. It’s the texture that freaks me out. However, noodlegirl is keen and so we normally buy at least one per week. It’ll cost you around 12,000VD for one from a street cart like this. The skin is a jagged bitch and I’ve cut myself more than once on one of these things.
It’s best to ask the seller to open your durian for you. They then stick the fruit meat in a polystyrene box.
The durian seller on my local market can be seen above hacking up a durian for us. She’s not taking any chances and wears something of a falconry glove to protect her paws.
On Ben Thanh market (see pic above) the durian are larger, but cost about three times the price of the street deal. Noodlegirl says the taste from the Ben Thanh babes is in another league.
The durian seller on my local market also sells the centrefold of the fruitarian galaxy, the dragonfruit. But, I guess much like many centrefold models, there’s not a lot going on inside. Under the gorgeous skin is an equally stunning night sky in negative effect – white flesh, dotted with wee black seeds – but it tastes of nothing, watery and unintersting.