If you, like me, are coming from a country that is cold and grey and have an average of 365 rainy days a year, you may think that the fruits you eat are juicy and sweet and good. Come to a country like Thailand and stand corrected.

And if you, like me, love to eat fruits, you will be amazed by a variety of tasty fruits you can buy here.

Mango, Melon, Papaya, Pineapple...

A

Apple: Apples (like Strawberries or Plums) in Thailand are the evidence that the “good fruit/ bad fruit” theory works both ways. A lot of them are grown in the north of Thailand but they are mostly not as tasty as those in Europe.

B:

Banana: There are 3 kinds of bananas known in Thailand. First, the “fragrant” Banana (kluay hom), which is the one we know from European markets. The “namwa” bananas (kluay nam wa) are smaller and often used for cooking, baking and frying, but can also be eaten as a fruit. The “egg” Banana (kluay khai) is the most common banana in Thailand, sweet and nice to eat.

C:

Chestnut: roasted and eaten as a snack, like potato chips, only healthier!

Coconut: They are available in 3 different shapes, forms, sizes…and ages. The “young coconut” (ma prow on) is often served as a very tropical desert and snack: drink the juice with a straw (very sweet!) and scoop out the jelly- white flesh. The middle-aged coconut (ma prow tuen tueng) is only used for cooking, whereas the “old” coconut that we sometimes eat as a snack is mostly used to get the coconut milk for cooking. What a waste!

D:

Durian: Now, here we go. For the Thais, it is “the king of fruits”. For almost everybody else, it is unthinkable to eat it. Honestly, I never tried it! Something that stinks this bad will not find the way into my mouth even if it is the most delicious thing on earth! It looks as bizarre as it smells. It is about 30 to 40 cm long, camouflage-colored and has big spikes all over it. The fruit is said to be rich and creamy and delicious. The smell is just awful. But if you want to try it. Be my guest! There must be a reason why the whole nation is crazy about it.

Dragon fruit: Dragon fruits (pitaya) is the fruit of a cactus and looks beautiful in a bizarre way. The waxen skin is dark pink with green rims and shaped like the fruit is on fire. The white to pink flesh is full of small black seeds (but it is okay to eat them) and tastes light, fresh, watery and not too sweet.

F:

Fig: It may not be a popular fruit here, unlike some European fruits, but it has quite a pleasant taste.

G:

Grapes: They are imported from Europe but often (though they get a lot of sun here) not as sweet as their European brothers and sisters. Maybe that is the reason why there is no halfway good domestic wine on sale.

Guave: This is us: the Farang! Big, pale and tasteless! Just kidding, of course. The Thai name for this fruit is “Farang”, which means foreigners in Thai. It tastes slightly sour and apple’ish, refreshing but really not too spectacular. Be careful of the small seeds inside this fruit. They are hard as rocks. 

J:

Jackfruit: It is hard to believe but there are fruits that look even more bizarre durians. Jackfruits (kha-nun) are bigger, greener and with more and smaller spikes. You may expect them to smell even worse than the durian. Well…you would be wrong! Their big yellow texture is soft and taste like a delicious mix of pineapple and banana. They are really, really good…..hmmmm…maybe I should try Durian after all?!

L:

Lime: Thai limes are small, green and really sour. Good for cooking, good for mixing cocktails…and good, if you have a cold, which usually happens twice a year, at the beginning of each rainy- and dry- season. 

Longan: Longan (lamyai) is a small brown fruit that is sold in large bundles of twigs. After you peel off the suede-like skin, the white fruit somehow tastes like “grapes on speed”: a bit grape’ish, but somehow richer and more exotic. Mind you! This fruit has a high level of fruit sugar.

Lychee: They are quite famous in Europe as well. The Lychee (linchi…I am not joking, that actually is the Thai name) originally comes from China. The white pink flesh tastes a bit like pear, but sweeter.

M:

Mangosteen: When durian is the “king” of fruits, there must be a queen and some say it is the Mangosteen (mangkhut). It is usually a bit smaller than an apple and rather attractive looking with its dark red to dark purple skin and the little “hat” it is wearing. Be careful when you cut it open because the juice from this fruit can stain and stay on your clothes. The white flesh is sweet/sour, like a mix between apple and pear. 

Mangosteen

Mango: Here comes my favorite. Ladies and gentlemen! Mangoes (mamuang) can be eaten in almost every form: very young, when they are of an apple like flavor or sometimes sour! Middle aged. When they turn from green to yellow and are mildly sour. When they are ripe, yellow, soft, sweet and juicy, they are just the best thing you have EVER eaten!!! Try the popular desert “sticky rice with mango” but make sure the coconut milk is not salted! This is what heaven must taste like!

O:

Oranges: if you order “orange juice” in Thailand and wonder why it does not taste like the one you know, it is because they are made from tangerines. Real oranges are way more expensive than the small, greenish ones you can buy practically everywhere, as fruit or juice (careful: the juice is often salted!). They taste quite good but have many seeds!

P:

Papaya: One of Thailand’s most popular fruits is the Papaya (malagaw). If it is ripe, you will see it on almost any fruit platter in every hotel. The orange flesh is soft and sometimes has a strange aftertaste, like an overripe fruit. Eat it with a splash of lemon. The young papaya is used to make the delicious -but often hellish spicy- Som Tam.

Pineapple: THIS is how pineapple are supposed to taste! Sweet, juicy …just perfect! Pineapples (sapalot) are sold almost at every street corner and the vendors often “celebrate” cutting the fruit into small pieces.

Pomello: Another one of my personal favorites. The fruit is green and about the size of a handball and the skin is unbelievably thick, But once you have it off, the taste is great. Pomello (som o) looks and tastes a bit like grapefruits but they are much less bitter…even sweet. You can usually buy Pomello prepared…and you should, because it is one hell of a job, to peel it!

R:

Rose apple: This small, bell-shaped, red or green fruit is watery, refreshing and not too sweet. The taste of the rose apple (chompoo) is somewhat apple-like and not very spectacular. It is best to put it in the fridge and eat it cold. It’s surprisingly refreshing, especially on a hot day.

Rambutan, Mangosteen and Guava

Rambutan: Another bizarre looking fruit is the rambutan (ngok). Alarm! Red with green/yellow hairs, the fruit looks like some fuzzy animal on an episode of “Star Trek”. The taste is similar to Lychee. Unfortunately, the flesh dose not come out of the seed easily, which sometimes spoils the experience.

S:

Strawberry: Thailand is not – I repeat: NOT!  - the land you should buy strawberries. The ones you usually get at the fresh markets may look red and juicy but they are hard and sour most of the times. For me, they have been a disappointment every single time.

Salak: You want bizarre? I give you bizarre! The Salak somehow resembles a mix of a pine cone and …something else that is brown and spiky! The first time I saw the fruit without its strage “dress”, I thought I was looking at gigantes, those big white beans the Greeks make that excellent salad from. The taste is a bit on the sour side but not unpleasant and kind of refreshing. You should give it a try – unique in taste and look!

T:

Tamarind (the sweet kind): The fruit looks like a brown pea with many segments. The taste of the flesh is prune- like and you will find sweet tamarind almost everywhere, eaten as a snack. The sour tamarinds are used for cooking.

W:

Watermelon: Known and popular in Europe, they usually taste a lot better here and are available at every street vendor. Watermelons (tang moh) in Thailand are (next to pineapples) the most common fruit on any fruit platter. And they are so good on a hot day, fresh from the fridge.

One word of warning/advice though! A thing that I personally never got/understood/ liked is the idea that Thai people like to eat many of these fruits with a mix of salt and ground chili!

But that is just me!

Maybe you like it that way…and maybe, you even want to try Durian!?

 

Fruit Stall