5.16.11 Enter the Dragon Fruit
G and I are homeward bound! We're getting on a plane tomorrow night, first class on Singapore Air! We're so ready. It's been a strange interlude, living in a hotel in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, watching my husband drift in and out of a morphine haze. I can't say I'll miss the room service food, but I will miss stumbling across exotic ingredients everywhere I go. Like this striking dragon fruit. We drove through a big grove of the cactus-like trees—almost like snakey Medusa heads—that produce this fantastical fruit and couldn't resist stopping at a roadside stand to buy one. According to the New York Times, here, the dragon fruit is having a bit of a moment, increasingly showing up on the menus of renowned chefs at groovy restaurants.
Dragon fruit will sprout only when their big, fragrant white blooms are properly pollinated. This can only happen after the sun goes down as the flowers are extraordinarily delicate. Bats and moths normally take care of the pollination duties, but in the US, where Southern California farmers have begun to grow the fruit, it is done by hand.
Paradoxically, for all its exotic looks, the dragon fruit doesn't taste like much. Full of tiny black seeds, it is like a slightly more watery kiwi, though lacking any of the sweetness or tang. It has a very pleasing mouthfeel and is extremely refreshing but the taste is really quite neutral. I can't understand what these chefs think it's bringing to the party.
From the color alone, it's safe to assume the dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is high in antioxidants. And it's watery texture means it's very low in calories. I could see serving it ice cold as a palate cleanser during a rich, spicy meal.
The next time you hear from me, I will be back on home turf.