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When we were in Vietnam, there were rambutans everywhere. The Mekong delta is bursting with fruit and we were there during high rambutan season. As we cycled through the villages around Vinh Long, rambutan trees hung over the road and in each driveway there was a woman selling baskets of the fruit. At the floating market in Cai Be, a little motorboat stacked high with rambutans zipped past us, spraying water in a hurry to sell the latest harvest. And the fruit themselves were juicy and sweet, with more filling and less pit than I’m used to at home. Plus, the skin came away easily from the flesh, making them much nicer to eat. Knowing my interest in food, our guide Anh took us to an orchard where the trees are grafted and grown. Although fruit trees grow like weeds in the Mekong, the orchards develop the best varieties.

Back home, I was excited to see a pack of rambutans in an Asian supermarket in London’s Chinatown. They were relatively big fruit and they made me happy just to see them piled up in a bowl in the dining room. I’m a sucker for foods that remind me of Vietnam. I ended up taking them around to Lemur friends JD and M as a gift, and while they were sweet and tasty, the skin stuck a bit too much to the flesh for ideal snacking. This is probably the inevitable difference between fruit that are local and plentiful and import varieties that have come halfway across the world. Regardless, rambutans are so vibrant and evocative, I’ll no doubt buy them again when I come across them…

 

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