Friday, January 22, 2016

Foodie Read :Durians Are Not the Only Fruits (notes from the Tropics)

I do not usually read adult books except cookbooks or craft books. However, this book, Durians Are Not The Only Fruits by Woon Yoon Wah was recommended by a librarian. This book , I believe was written in Chinese by the author and is being translated to English by Jeremy Tiang.

Durians is a delightful read about the tropics. It is a mixture of memoir, essay and nature writing. Food related topics covered slightly more than half of the book. Beside durians, tropical fruits like mangosteen, rambutans and banana, and food like Lei Cha ( Thunder Rice Tea), Yusheng (a dish normally we ate during Chinese New Year), Nonya Dumpling, Nanyang Curry are mentioned too.
Yusheng (3 plates on the right), an auspicious dish in Singapore.

It offers insight how petty durian trees are and when they would be harvested. The king of fruits is often growing together with his queen (mangosteen) and concubine (rambutan). The mangosteen is cooling effect and is best eaten with durian to combat its heatiness. Rambutan, his heaty concubine, will turn bad after 5 to 6 days after plucking. An interesting rumour is that the rambutan tree will bear sour fruits if touched by a female.

Food evolution is being mentioned in Thunder in a Bowl, that refers to Leicha. It was originally a tea drink, now has become a meal complete with rice and finely chopped vegetable.  The dish is now associated with healthy eating. You may want to find out by reading how the food acquire this name.

Leicha is believed to  be a very healthy food choice

Immigrants evolves just the same as food. Those who come to this part of the world, brought over their food and culture. These food and culture changed over the years.

You will find yourselves getting bonus by reading because some recipes were also mentioned.

The rest of the book is dedicated to the trees and animals in the tropics.  Did you know rain tree can tell the time and the behaviour of ants can tell when a monsoon is about to arrive? I like the topic on Mosquito Mystery. As mention in the book, how is it possible that "the more we eradicate them, the faster they infect us?" It sets me thinking whether the constant spraying of pesticide had created some kind of "super mosquito". Probably the best way is still to use natural repellent.

After reading, I do agree this book is indeed an interesting read although it takes me a pretty long time to complete. I learnt more about the fruits and food we eat and also the trees and animals we live with. If you found this book, do give it a read to more about the tropics.

Linking with:
Foodies Read 2016Growing with the Tans


  1. this looks very interesting! leicha, is it a tea? thank you for sharing!

    1. with rice and finely chopped veggies and a bowl of tea next to it. You can choose whether to add the tea into the rice. Amount to add is all by choice.

  2. I have never tried durian although I know about it from Chopped. I have heard of mangosteen but have never heard of rumbaten. For these reasons it might be a worthwhile read.

    1. Durian has a strong smell. Some people are being turned off by it. Hence, you are unlikely to find it being offered in hotels even though it is in its peak season. Those who had eaten and love the fruit would be attracted by the smell to find it.
      Rambutan is a red hairy fruit. It is very sweet and juicy.

  3. What an interesting book! I traveled a lot in Asia for work but I confess I never developed a taste for Durian--the smell definitely got to me. I loved all of the signs in the hotels we stayed in that said "No Durian!" (could be brought into them by guests). ;-) I do love mangosteen and eat my share of rambutan when it is in season here.

    1. Wow! At least you have tried the other 2 fruits!


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