Sunday, November 6, 2011


Today one of the vendors at Haymarket had a big pile of red fuzzy-looking things a little smaller than a tennis ball. "What's that?" I asked.

He had a mouthful of something or another, so he simply pointed at his mouth and said something like "Mmurff." His assistant noted that the sign said "rambutan."

I'd heard of rambutan, but if I've ever eaten it I don't remember it, and at least I've never seen it fresh inside its husk. So I asked if it were good. The assistant didn't answer, possibly because he speaks limited English. The boss chewed. And chewed. He didn't hurry to swallow whatever filled his mouth, but finally found his voice and told me that they're good and that they're something like lychee. I stood around, hoping he'd offer me a sample, but he offered me nothing.

Meanwhile, couple from Southeast Asia came by, got very excited, and bought a big bag of them. They advised me to do the same, so I finally bought a pound. Peeling off the husk, I found a shiny white sphere inside. (It looked to me like an eyeball, a fact which I decided to ignore.) I gave Alla a bite and then I took the second half. It was delicious. I opened another one for Alla and another for myself. And another.

I turned around and returned to the stand, telling the head guy that I'd made a mistake. He looked suspicious. I elaborated that I'd only bought one pound of rambutan and should have bought two. He said, "I tried to tell you you'd like it." His assistant filled my bag generously. Alla and I munched rambutan most of the way back home. Highly recommended.

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