Mangosteens, guavas, tamarind and star fruit. Not your average fruit bowl dwellers, eh what? Where we come from, such fruits are like exotic characters in stories written about far away places, elusive and unimaginable.
Here in pretty much tropical Hanoi, this fruity bounty is constantly in one's vista. Basket hauling rural ladies wander the streets and alleys with tons of it on board, markets overflow with it, it's peddled off the back of bicycles, strung to trees in unique merchandising displays, offered to gods and ancestors on little altars...fruit's bloody everywhere here! It's argued about with more vigor than politics or football, the price being the most prickly sore point.
Price is dependent on who you are (old, young, male, female, local, foreign or from down south), whether it's low-shoulder, high-shoulder or peak season for the fruit in question and, ye gods, which part of the lunar month are we in!!! Add to this unfathomable formula the vehemence of one's haggling, and a price will be plucked from thin air. Anyone got a calculator or a oeija board?
So, in contrast to all this palaver associated with getting fresh fruit to one's cake hole, consider the following salty, sour, spicy, sweet alternative. The fruit in these here pictures can be purchased in hundred gram units called lang, for prices clearly displayed. Mangoes, pineapples, guavas, and starfruit are sprinkled with salt and chili, which draws out the juice and, upon tasting, accentuates the sweetness. The locals have a liking for under-ripe, sour mangoes which goes well with the salt-chili treatment. The tamarind, which must be mature, has the pod stripped from it and is shallow fried in a sugar chili syrup. It's a really sticky treat, so much so that bees hover at these fruitshops. Other fruit is given ginger treatment.
It's fruit with a twist!
One lang pineapple, two lang mango, one lang woody apricotty things (sau) - 10,000VND (USD62c, AUD81c)
Dat Thuy Khe
41D Ly Quoc Su Street
(just up from St. Joseph's cathedral)