Pictured above from the upper left: An unknown Thai melon, a katon (aka kraton, kraton priya, krathon wild mangosteen, santol, or sandorica. Scientific names: Sandoricum koetjape, Sandoricum indicum, Sandoricum nervosum or Melia koetjape. Family Meliaceae, Order Sapindales. Source.) somebody at work gave me, and an unknown species of banana that were selling for 20 baht/bunch at a local market.
The bananas were good but not exceptional, the katon got spoiled before I could eat it (I never seem to get sweet ones; people around here tend to eat it in a savory/spicy fruit salad), and I did what we do with all unknown melons* – tried a bit to see if it was a sweet variety. When it proved to be a non-sweet variety, we used half for pork rib soup and half in a red curry. It was the bomb!
*Let me clarify: We don’t eat stuff that might not be safe. It’s not unknown because we have no idea about it, but because our housekeeper gave it to us and told us the name, but we promptly forgot it. Now our housekeeper is recovering from surgery at home, so the name of the melon will remain unknown until such time as she recovers, returns to work, and I can remember to ask her about it.
This is a bael or bael fruit AKA Bengal quince, wood apple, stone apple or seer phael (head-fruit). In Thai it’s known as matum.
In Thailand, bael is usually found in the form of dried slices, which are reconstituted in water to make juice. Our housekeeper brought over a few from her tree and I was surprised at how hard and heavy they were. We did as she said and boiled them, but then accidentally left them out on a hot night and the next day, they had fermented in the shell and burst, oozing a heavy syrup onto our counters. I threw them into the pond out front as an offering to Shiva, although he seems to favor the leaves instead of the fruit.
April, May, and June are mango season here. Everybody who grows them at home brings them into the office or to their friends before the fruit gets too ripe. The coolest thing is that there are over a hundred different species grown and sold here in Thailand. I’ve probably tried about a third of them. To date, the best kind I’ve had are small ones that people grow in their backyards and sell at weekend fresh markets, known generically as mamuang noi (small mango). They have the perfect blend of sweet, tart, and wild flavors, and are at once slightly chewy yet soft.
We happened upon a stretch of fried grasshopper stands and decided to partake. They were most excellent.
Also, it turned out that one of the princesses of Thailand was in a motorcade behind us and we had to pull over with all the other cars on the road to clear it before she passed. I had my Nikon ready and will post photos later.