We had a welcome and unusual visitor in our little alleyway late yesterday, the kind of visitor I wish there was more of here in my neighborhood. While my otherwise totally adequate apartment is in a secure, quiet part of Hua Hin, the location really stinks.
The nearest 7-11 type store is half a mile away. There are no neighbors to speak of except the ones on either side of my apartment, and they keep to themselves pretty much. Aside from our building of five apartments, all the other dwellings in the area are massive houses with tall walls and heavy metal fences. And serious grocery shopping is several miles away. Not a great location if you don’t have transportation.
Which is why I have started looking for a new place more in the center of town. But back to my visitor.
I was almost finished with my late afternoon walk, coming home loaded down with beverages, coconut milk and a few other items from the Tesco Lotus quick stop, when a 50-something Thai woman rode by on a motorbike. She was peddling something orange, looked like fruit. We exchanged smiles and continued on our ways.
Two minutes later, there she was at the end of my alley, talking with the woman next door who lives with a Frenchman. Her son was also there. They were sampling the woman’s fruit.
We had some communication problems but the neighbor had translation on her phone and showed me what the fruit was when I asked. Jack fruit.
That sounded familiar, as it is well known is Indonesia and is the main ingredient in gudeg Yogya, a famous dish in Yogyakarta. Gudeg is jack fruit seasoned and cooked for hours. It looks like beef when it’s done and even has the consistency of very well cooked beef.
While I had sampled gudeg in Yogyakarta, I had never eaten the raw fruit, even though it was growing outside my apartment window in Batam. My smiling Thai vendor gave me a sample, as my neighbor and her son ate theirs.
It was only 50 baht ($1.50) for 500 grams so I figured why not and bought some. Now I’ve got to figure out what to do with it, as I don’t have the ingredients for gudeg. I mean, who has lemongrass in their kitchen? Not to mention the other spices I can’t even pronounce. I will try some sort of curry with it.
But my point is not the jack fruit, it’s the fact it was available on my doorstep that was important. In Batam, I really appreciated the fact there was food virtually right outside my door, whether at a store, a fresh market or a street vendor. It was a little noisier, and dirtier, than what I have now, but I was in the middle of the community, not on the fringes.
My lease runs out in July so we will see what happens. Meanwhile, time to cook some jack fruit.