Sunday, January 25, 2009

Exotic Fruit brought to you by Southeast Asia

One of the reasons I believe Asians are not as overweight as Westerners/Americans is because they don't eat sweet baked goods on a regular basis. I witnessed this first hand recently on a two week trip to Singapore and Thailand. If they do feel the need to eat sweet, it is usually fruit - beautiful, colorful, exotic, and luscious. Never would you see any locals eating any processed prepackaged foods, especially of the confectionery variety.

My first day in Singapore, we had a food tour with the first stop at
Singapore's most famous Hawker centre, Maxwell Food Centre (made famous to the USA by Anthony Bourdain). The heat was thick, wet, and oppressive; 90 degrees and 90% humidity in late November. I just wanted to cool down. Our tour guide was getting us the famous dishes - chicken rice and carrot cake (which is really a radish omelet & one of my faves to blog about later). She recommended getting a fruit shake that were a real treat here. So I ventured walking from stall to stall. Some of the fruit of foreign in to me; I have never seen more perfect fruit in all my life. There were a handful of stalls that just did fruit/shakes with shakes for conditions. I started talking to this one hawker that I liked (picture above) and asked him for his recommendation. "You will have soursop and guava. It will cool you down." It did, and for only $2. This fruitshake was the most flavorful and lightest shake I have ever had.

While in Thailand, I did see a little of the junky baked goods. Mostly marketed towards the western tourists did I see doughnuts and fried dough wrapped bananas sold side-by-side with bananas and perfectly carved mangoes and pineapples. This picture says it all on Phranang beach in Krabi, Thailand. The Thai diet is 90%+ gluten free and milk free. Thai food is such a complex flavor profile - savory, sweet, sour, and spicy. I love it. They utilize everything they have local to them. The fruit there is like candy.

Back to Singapore and the beautiful fruit stands in Chinatown. Half of the fruit was common such as the oranges, bananas, mangoes, pineapple, melons, plums, kiwis . . . Then were was the exotic fruit - dragonfruit (my fave), jackfruit, mangosteens, durian (stinky!), soursop, lycees, guava, passionfruit, papaya, pomello, and many more I have no clue what they are. They were all so delicious (except the Durian, which is an acquired taste). This time of the year I find challenging living in the Midwest without any good seasonal fruit that is local. I can just look at these pictures and remind myself that there is always fresh fruit with no gluten, no milk, no excuses, and no guilt.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

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