Jackfruit

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The jackfruit is like the little brother of the strong smelling Durian. It’s similar in shape and size, often the size of a football helmet adorned with spiked. Jackfruit also emits a strong smell, a sickly sweet smell of a room full of flowers. Jackfruit is usually eaten on its own, though in some countries it’s turned into a curry.

The flesh has a chewiness and a bite to it not unlike that of cooked chicken. I guess that’s why it makes for a great curry. The flavor is sweet, like its smell, but it also has a slightly spoilt taste. This is where the durian comparison comes in.

Personally I like jackfruit a lot better than durian, as it doesn’t just taste rotten, but sweet as well. However, I’m not a big fan either. Sometimes you come across a piece of flesh that does taste more “off”, and it’s hard to swallow.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 5

Dragon fruit

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The dragon fruit is a tropical fruit that I’d never even heard about as a kid. It’s eaten all over China and South East Asia, but actually comes from Mexico and South America where it is called Pitahaya. Though there are a few varieties the most common one here in China has white flesh.

The flesh is very juicy and is really refreshing. It’s a little bit sweet as well. The texture is more like a banana, not too soft and not too hard. Like a banana it’s easy to peel making it a handy on-the-go snack. There are dozens of blacks seeds within the flesh, but these can be eaten without chewing as they’re neither big nor hard.

I rather like this fruit, although I wouldn’t want to eat too much of it, as its taste reminds me of cucumber and watermelon, two other watery fruits that I don’t really like. It’s good in a fruit salad though, or with some yogurt.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7

Durian Pizza

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Earlier on in this blog I mentioned I’d tried a blueberry pizza. Before then, I never thought a fruit pizza could work. Though I’m still not 100% convinced, at least it wasn’t terrible. Today I went for a pizza buffet and found they were serving durian pizza. Durian. My enemy. I shall conquer you one day. Perhaps today would be my lucky day.

There was no bad smell coming off the pizza, but if you came in close, you could definitely smell that distinct aroma. Taste wise it was a similar experience. The flavor of durian was there, that slightly rotten taste, but it wasn’t overpowering. It wasn’t a side note on the background, the taste was definitely there. It was just not off-putting. I could actually finish the whole piece. Perhaps I finally conquered the mighty king of fruits. I didn’t go back for seconds though, it wasn’t THAT good.

Fear Factor – 7 – Taste Test – 5

Longan

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The longan, or dragon’s eye in Chinese, is a small round fruit that’s similar to a lychee. I would consider it a tropical fruit, because I never saw it anywhere in Europe. The fruit is mostly eaten raw here, though it is sometimes used in sweet and sour meat dishes.

The tree bark-like skin peels away easily revealing a translucent fruit with a black stone inside. This gives it its Chinese name, as the black stone resembles an eyeball. The flesh is extremely juicy and very refreshing. It’s sweet, with just a hint of soapiness that I link to lychees.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7

 

Sea buckthorn juice

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Sea buckthorn is a fruit that grows in Europe, even in my own country, and yet I had never heard of it until I saw bottles of its juice here in Chinese supermarkets. That’s probably because, at least according to Wikipedia, the fruit is very acidic and unpleasant to eat.

They’re also difficult to harvest due to the abundance of thorns on the plants. You can, however, use the fruits to make juice or jams if you just add enough sugar. That’s how the once sour, almost inedible berry found its way to my kitchen.

The juice still had to touch of sourness, which reminded me of a green apple, but there was also a sweetness that I would swear resembles pineapple. It was nice to find multiple layers of flavor in the juice of only one fruit. That’s something you normally only find in a blend of juices. It’s good for you too, as it’s high in vitamin C.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 9

Durian chocolate

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Here’s the second round for that notorious king of fruit, the durian. In Indonesia I was beaten, and now I was back for revenge. This time the smelly fruit manifested itself in the form of chocolate. I really thought that this time I would come up trumps, as I am a bit of a chocaholic.

That sweet yet putrid smell of decaying flowers that entered my nose on opening the packaging brought me back to Bali immediately. Now I was hesitant. Reluctant even. That taste of raw onions and rotting meat also came back to me.

The second time around I was still horrified by the taste of this foul smelling fruit. The chocolate did mellow it out just enough for me to swallow my first piece of chocolate, but not enough to go back for seconds.

Fear Factor – 8 / Taste Test – 1

Kumquat

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Another mysterious fruit of my youth, the kumquat. The kumquat comes from the citrus family. It’s orange in color, shaped like an egg, but much smaller than any of the other citrus fruits. I’d only ever heard about these fruit when I was younger.

I picked up a bag of kumquats from the supermarket blatantly unaware of how to eat them. As I cut into one of them thinking I’d eat it as if it were a tangerine I was surprised by the lack of visible flesh. What little was there was very juice and sweet, but at this rate I would have to open about a hundred before I would have quenched my thirst.

Perhaps they weren’t fully ripe yet, so I had a look on Google for some more information. It turns out that you eat them as a whole, skin and all. I cut another open and removed the pips and cut off a few slices.

I expected the rind to be bitter, but there was only a slight underlying bitter note. Instead I found a little piece of textural heaven all in one bite. First you go through the chewy, slightly bitter, ring. Then comes the sweet almost creamy flesh and at last you get a big hit of sweet juice as the flesh releases its juice. This was a nice little find. I can imagine it makes for a great marmalade.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 8

Blueberry pizza

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I’ve eaten many and many a pizza over the years, with many and many a topping. From the humble potato to the exorbitant truffle, but never ever with fruit. Well, maybe pineapple, but that seems to be generally accepted. My mouth fell slightly open when I found a blueberry pizza at the supermarket.

I thought there might just be a few dots of blueberry on there, but when I opened the package the whole thing was purple. There’s no backing down now, so after ten minutes in the oven I was ready to dig in.

In all honesty, it was a hundred times better than I expected. The fruit was not overly sweet, maybe even a little sour, and therefore didn’t clash with the cheese. Mostly you could just taste the bread, but every once and a while a berry would pop in your mouth releasing its tangy juice. I don’t think this is going to catch on in Europe, but I liked it well enough.

Fear Factor – 6 / Taste Test – 8

Mulberries

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I never had mulberries as a kid in Holland. In fact I’d never even heard of them. They’re abundant in China, and I buy them every once and a while to have along with some yogurt and muesli.

Mulberries look similar to blackberries, though they are more elongated. On their own they taste sweet and a little earthy. Mulberries definitely put the forest in forest fruit. They’re just a little too earthy for me to have on their own, but mixed with some yogurt really brings out the sweetness.

Unlike blackberries where the whole berry blends into one, each kernel of the mulberry pops in your mouth like caviar releasing its juice. This gives you a bit of an explosion in your mouth.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

Durian

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I had always heard mixed reactions to the consumption of the notorious king of stinky fruit, the durian. Locals in South East Asia say it may smell like hell, but it tastes like heaven. Westerners, on the other hand, find it unpalatable.

The durian is definitely one of the stranger fruits I have ever eaten. It’s as big as a basketball, and sometimes even bigger, and is covered in ferocious spikes, making it a dangerous past time to walk among the trees that bear it. You surely don’t want one of those falling on your head. Durian is also one of the smelliest foods on the planet. It’s right up there with Limburger cheese and Stinky Tofu (more on those later). Its smell is so overpowering it’s oftentimes not allowed to bring into public buildings such as hotels. This is truly a forbidden fruit.

I had come across durians before during my travels across Asia. I can see them in my local supermarket in China throughout the year, but it wasn’t until my second visit to Bali, Indonesia in 2016 that I decided to give it ago. Maybe the locals were right after all.

It turns out that even after five years of living in China, my palate had not yet fully adapted to Asian standards. Durian is one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever had the “pleasure” of trying. It’s hard to describe the sensation, but I’ve finally narrowed it down to a mixture of blue cheese and raw onions.

Although I’m not keen on trying again, durian will feature heavily in tis blog in the shape of chocolate, cookies, ice-creams and shakes. The thought of it alone gives me precognitive gags, but who knows I might be surprised.

Fear Factor – 5 / Taste Test – 0