I was tagged by primaryconsumer for a meme that's going around (it started over at The Traveler's Lunchbox- you can see the original post here). You have to pick 5 things you think everyone should eat before they die.
My first thought was tropical fruits. I grew up in a tropical island for 17 years eating a large variety of fruits that I was disappointed with the Western Hemisphere's choices of fruits. The fruits that I grew up with are so unusual to North Americans, I don't even know their English names for some of them. I really miss them and can't get all of them here in the US. I tried to get descriptions of the fruits (with pictures) I grew up with from the Internet as much as I could but some of them couldn't even be found. These are the fruits: salak (snakefruit), rambutan, jambu (wax apple or jawa apple), duku, sawo (sapodilla), sirsat (annonaceae), mangostene, blimbing (star fruit or carambola), durian, lengkeng (longan or dragon eye), mangga (mango), nangka (jackfruit), degan (young coconut) and papaya. Some of them, such as longan, rambutan, young coconut, star fruit, mango, papaya, and durian can be bought in Asian markets in my area. Although, not all varieties of fruits of the same kind are available here. For example, there are different types of mangoes and bananas in Indonesia and I only can get 1 or 2 kinds of mangoes and bananas here. They are imported from South America who doesn't have all of the varieties Indonesia has.
Another thought was Indonesian desserts or dishes flavored with screwpine leaves (pandan) and palm sugar (gula jawa). I missed the smell and flavor of fresh screwpine leaves. What I can find here are the frozen ones and they are not as strong as the fresh leaves. Like vanilla, it is the best smelling essence for desserts made with a mixture of coconut milk and palm sugar.
Here is my list of 5 foods people should try before they die
- The King of Fruits: Durian. I don't know why it is called the king of fruits. I think because it is the smelliest fruit in the world that it is banned from airlines, hotel, and all kinds of public places in Asian countries. People describe this fruit as 'smell like hell but taste like heaven' which is a perfect description for it. If you don't grow up with it you will need to acquire the taste, get used to the smell, and learn how to love this fruit. But once you love it, you will be missing it. You can search the Internet for 'durian' and find all kinds of stories how people describe their first encounter experiences with this fruit.
- The Queen of Fruits: Mangostene. I can't find this fruit in the US, haven't had it for 26 years, and missed it. It is considered to be a medicinal fruit and has a delicious unique flavor. The mangostene juice is sold in the Internet for its healthy qualities. I didn't even know about the healthy characteristics until I read about it in the Internet. I just know that it tastes so good.
- Fresh Young Coconut. Hhmmm.... the taste of coconut juice(not coconut milk) and young coconut meat is so good. It is now available in my area and is sold in Asian markets. The raw foodists have made this fruit popular recently. Here is an interesting picture and movie how to open a young coconut(skills acquired to open this fruit): how to open a young coconut. Lately, I found out that Whole Foods in my area carry it. I don't know about WF in other locations though. The Indonesians usually add shaved ice and rose flavored syrup on top of a mixture of young coconut meat and juice. I usually eat them straight from the fruit.
- Desserts or dishes flavored by screwpine leaves (pandan). Indonesian desserts usually are flavored with pandan instead of vanilla extract. Indonesians use coconut milk and palm sugar (gula jawa) to make the desserts rich, tasty, and decadent. The original recipes of the desserts usually do not contain eggs and butter; mostly, they are vegan. But due to Western influences, new recipes with eggs and butter came out in the last decades. Pictured is an Indonesian Pandan and Coffee Flavored Jello/Agar-agar Mold dessert. Fresh pandan leaves are great for flavoring rice and curries too.
- Tempeh. Just like tofu, tempeh has become popular lately in vegan and vegetarian world. This is one that either you love it or you hate it. I grew up with tempeh so of course I love it. The key to try tempeh for the first time is to eat a fresh tempeh. If you try tempeh that has been frozen for months, you more than likely will hate it. Frozen tempeh can be bitter and dry. The fresh tempeh is absolutely wonderful.
I am adding a site that has pictures of Javanese Fruits (this is the url:http://www.geocities.com/omimachifuri/fruits.htm ). This is quite an interesting site. Not only fruits were displayed in this site but also Javanese vegetables and snacks. I just kept clicking Next, page after page. These are the fruits, vegetables, and snacks I grew up with. There are clear pictures of exotic fruits in this site. Hhmmm...seeing them made me missed them more and I only can see the pictures. :-(