They do things different in Thailand. In a country where red traffic lights and one-way street signs are mere suggestions, where light switches are upside down and where a smile can mean literally anything from ‘I love you’ to ‘I’m going to kill you and go bowling with your head,’ it’s not surprising that even the food can be bizarre – and more specifically the fruit. Here are five bizarre Thai fruits, ranging from one that you’re not allowed to hit people with to a fruit that looks strangely like a Muppet.
Let’s get this straight: If you hit someone in anger with a durian you can risk going to jail. That’s the law in Thailand but it’s not the only reason that durian is controversial; this spiky medieval mace-like fruit with a soft segmented interior is banned from several hotels because of its penetrating and sickly (for some) odour.
Also known as a ‘sugar apple’ (aka as a ‘bull’s heart’ if you really want to get pedantic) and originally from Central America, the custard apple looks like an overgrown, bloated green raspberry. But don’t let its appearance put you off; you can easily break this fruit into two halves with your hands and it’s to be eaten with a spoon. Sometimes people mix it with coconut milk and cool it off to make delicious homemade ice cream.
Dragon fruits look like nothing else on earth. If you open this pinkish-purple hostile-looking little guy you’ll see that the white creamy inner flesh has a polka-dot bikini look to it. That’d be the black seeds, then. Dragon fruits are actually related to the cactus family and are rated as effective laxatives, probably because they’re so scary looking. Oh, and they rely on bats for pollination.
Thailand’s national fruit, and looking like an edible hand grenade, the inner segments of the mangosteen have a delightfully subtle almost sherbet-like tarty taste. Interestingly enough, the number of fleshy segments inside the tough rind corresponds to the number of tiny tabs seen on the bottom of the fruit before peeling.
A dead ringer for Animal – the mad drummer in The Muppet Show, the rambutan’s name is derived from the Malay word for ‘rambut,’ meaning ‘hair’ – probably because of its wild, hairy appearance. Once you’ve gotten over the initial surprise of buying what looks like a bag of mad drummers, try peeling away the red and yellow spiky rind and you’ll discover white, translucent flesh with a seed at its heart.