Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Hairy Jungle Man, the King and Queen of Fruits

Driving along Havelock road during the months of June to August, the mountains of yellow and red along the side of the road provide an inevitable distraction for the busy traffic in Colombo.

As you drive closer to the pavement, the luscious round red and yellow rambutans come into full view, and the pungent whiff of durians are enough to make you stop and allow your taste buds to go into a frenzy. Whichever stall seller you pick, it is unlikely that any of his fruit offerings will leave you disappointed. He will offer you one rambutan to try, and you will be hooked. Before long you will leave with at least 20-30 rambutans to bring home to enjoy. At 5-10 rupees each (depending on size and variety), they are a great affordable treat for the family.   

The best selling rambutans (or ‘hairy jungle man’ as translated from its original Malay name) are the round red luscious ones called ‘Malwana Special’ – they sell better because they look better aesthetically, who wouldn’t want to buy bright red, round, large rambutans? In actual fact, the yellow variety called the ‘Malaysian Yellow’, are sweeter and tastier than the Malwana Special. My favourite, by far is the Malaysian Yellow – they are never disappointing!
Havelock RoadSide
For those who love the durian or ‘King of Fruits’ (you either love it or hate it, lets face it - there isn’t really any middle ground), you have the choice of ravishing the fruit in the comforts of your car or buying the fruits to feast at home. It’s a great way to hang out with your friends after work, just sitting by the pavement and sharing as much durian to your heart’s delight. For those whose taste buds don’t quite agree with the durian, the dark purple mangosteens provides a perfect alternative. They are sold next to the durians, which earns them the nick ‘Queen of Fruits’. Eating both also has neutralizing benefits – the overpowering durian has a heaty ‘yang’ nature whereas the mild mangosteen has a cooling ‘yin’ nature.

For Sumathipala, one of the many friendly stall owners, this time of year presents an opportunity to make some more cash on the side on top of his usual day job. After 30 years of being in the business, he tells of how he perches by Havelock Road till wee hours of the morning to sell his stock. It’s a hard night’s work, but when he sells out his pile of fruits each night, the feeling of hearty satisfaction is well worth the effort.

When comes the season for the ‘hairy jungle man’ and ‘King and Queen of fruits’, everybody comes out a winner.


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