Some people don’t like the word “exotic” – others jump at the opportunity to say that this or that fruit isn’t exotic anymore or isn’t exotic for this or that country.
But you know what? I like the word exotic – it awakens a curiosity within me, an excitement of a world that perhaps is not yet as mainstream as people make it out to be.
Sure, the world does feel smaller and smaller, and there are foods in our supermarkets today that nobody would have ever heard of 10 years ago – but to me, there are many fruits that I have yet to taste or only had the privilege of trying once – and those, in my opinion, are exotic …
Kiwano Melon – Africa
Also known as the African cucumber, this slimey looking melon with horns is native to the African Kalahari Desert – today you can also find it in California and New Zealand.
Some people say it’s the most disgusting fruit they’ve ever tried, others say it reminds them of a blend between banana, lime, passionfruit and cucumber – an unsual blend indeed…!
Durian – South East Asia
One of the strangest tasting experiences I’ve had is with the Durian – this big, spiky, evil-looking fruit has some dedicated fans, but even more people who avoid it at all cost.
The reason why it’s such a strange experience to taste it is because you’re fighting your own senses. Your nose tells you to stay the hell away, while your tongue tells you to continue eating.
The fruit actually tastes pretty good, but the smell is stomach-turning, which is why you will see signs everywhere in South East Asia banning the fruit.
Everything from hospitals to hotels to buses put up big signs warning anyone from bringing the fruit inside.
Wood Apple – Sri Lanka
When I first saw the wood apple I thought it was inedible. The shell looks like a rock, and the insides look rotten.
But don’t let the look – or funky smell, fool you, because it tastes great – if you don’t want to eat it as it is, order a wood apple smoothie or juice, and you will be hooked!
Ugli – Caribbean
This is a fruit I have yet to taste, and to be honest I had never even heard of this fruit until just a few days ago.
Just the name alone makes me want to try this fruit, and the fact that the name describes the look of it is even better!
The Ugli looks a bit like an ugly version of an orange, and tastes like a mix between a grapefruit, orange and tangerine – the fruit is a favorite among locals, can be found everywhere from tiny street stalls to Caribbean luxury resorts.
Jackfruit – India
Seriously one of the tastiest fruits I’ve ever had, the yellow flesh of the Jackfruit is sweet and mild, similar to pineapple – only better… The fruit is one of the largest tree-borne fruits in the world, so I would suggest buying the flesh by itself rather than the whole fruit.
Snake Fruit – Indonesia
Snake fruit, or Salak, is a fruit I haven’t seen anywhere outside Asia.
It looks like an imaginary snake egg, with a shell like the skin of a snake.
The snake egg has a sweet and sometimes tangy taste to it, kind of like pineapple but with a completely different consistency, like an apple, and it looks like huge peeled garlic cloves.
One of the reasons you don’t see it much in places where the fruit doesn’t grow is because it goes rotten only a week after picking. Even in a country where the fruit grows it’s hard to spot the tasty ones from the bad.
Be careful when eating it, avoid the red parts as they’re a bit sour, and remember that the pulp inside is inedible!
Sapodilla – Caribbean
Sapodilla is basically nature’s cotton-candy. It is super sweet, like syrup. Someone once described it as a caramel-covered pear.
It’s definitely a highlight for people taking luxury holidays in the Caribbean, but picking them is an art form.
As they are picked before they ripen, they must be stored in certain ways. Some bury them underground, others wrap them up in clothes to speed up the process.
Feijoa – South America
With a consistency of a pear and a flavor like something between guava, pineapple and strawberry – this fruit really has combined the best flavors in the world..!
While it is native to South America, it’s mainly grown in New Zealand today – it’s also Nathan’s favorite fruit
Other exotic fruits worth trying: Longan, Lychee (one of my favorites), Rhambutan, Santol, Mangosteen (yum!) and Dragonfruit (yuck!).
What are some exotic fruits you have tried?