A half-peeled lanzones. (Photos by Jammie Karlman)

A half-peeled lanzones. (Photos by Jammie Karlman)

This post is for my mom. Last time we talked, she asked what fruits I’d been eating. Three seconds into my list, she immediately broke in with, “Lanzones! What about lanzones?”

Of course, Mom, of course lanzones!

Lanzones are globular-shaped fruit about the size of a super ball that grows in clusters. They’re so common in Thailand that hopefully I may be forgiven for not writing about them earlier. They’re like the apples of Thailand (although apples are abundant here, too. Hmm. Bad analogy. I hope you get what I mean. Moving right along…)

I did some research on them and apparently they are grown throughout Southeast Asia, especially the Philippines, which may explain why my mom is so keen on them. Their skin is light yellowish brown, like a really dirty khaki. (If you’ve never seen dirty khaki, go to a high school that utilizes them as part of their uniform. I’m talking about you, GAA — holla!)

The skin is thin and pliable and easily peeled. The fruit inside is clear and sectioned like an orange. It tastes tangy-sweet, but watch out for the seeds: there’s usually one big seed that can easily be avoided, but there are also smaller seeds that can escape detection and are bitter when bitten. The flesh has the same soft crunch as grapes; in fact I think of them as more exotic grapes (although they totally don’t taste like them. Like, totally.) Tastewise, I think they run more along the lines of a mangosteen, but not as good (of course.)

They are still very delicious; I’m not tired of eating them, though I gorge on them at least once a week. Besides being tasty, they are also cheap. I’ve seen one kilo (about 2 pounds) sell for 15 baht ($.51 U.S.).

A bunch of lanzones, sans insects.

A bunch of lanzones, sans insects.

Eating them (and other fruits here) is also a good exercise in overcoming insectophobia. It’s not uncommon for vendors to hand overย  a bag of lanzones that is overrun by quick, BIG, black ants. The first time I grabbed some, more than half a dozen of them swarmed onto my hand. Another time, a baby scorpion was present in the bag. However, I have nicely progressed from flinging my hand all about while making a sound halfway between a shriek and swallowing a bullfrog (I believe it phonetically resembles “heeeYUG AUGeitzachah”) to calmly brushing them off my hand while making hyperventilated, soft “heep” sounds.

So yes, I’ve tried them and loved them. Just like my mom.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

(I meant: I love myย  mom, too; but I suppose I also mean that my mom and I have the same taste in foods. Ooh, so layered… orย  just a poorly constructed sentence. :T Anyhoo — I’m out. For reals.)

14 thoughts on “Lanzones!

    • I lived in the Phillipines for 3 years from 6-8. I remember the rats. My sister bet me a couldn’t catrch one. I did. It bit me. My mother rushed me to the post hospital–again. Betty Vail

      • Betty, you are much braver than I. If my sister tried to make that bet, I’d immediately say, “You’re right. I can’t do it. And I will scream like a clown on fire if bring one near me.” ๐Ÿ˜€

  1. Baby scorpion in your fruit bag! Sometimes when I read your blog I’m blindsided with the realization that I might not be able to live in or even visit another country. We are so pampered here in the US. I appreciate your honest reactions to your experiences even if they make me question my own desire for travel… but I think that’s good…right?

    • I’m hoping it’s just the tropical places that have the dime-sized ants and baby scorpion surprises. Bjorn did tell me before we came here that insects (and lizards) were to be expected anywhere and everywhere, but the reality of living with them was still a shock. The good news is you get used to it all, really, you do! (Except for the giant rats. I still scream every time I see them. Hmmm, I may not be doing such a good job in providing reassurance.) But anyhooo- what I’m really trying to say is, you should still travel. ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Pajammie! Remember that nickname? I had a durian shake today and I thought about you. It was not pleasant. It had a funky foretaste and then a sweet aftertaste then remnants of the funk came back. You think if I eat the actual fruit it would be different?

    • RRRRITA! Of course I remember that nickname (and getting lost in the museum in SF trying to find the rainbow painting during String Choir tour :D). I should have added an addendum to that durian post: Durian-flavoring most definitely DOES NOT taste like the fruit. Bjorn and I had durian ice cream and it tasted like sweet sweaty gym socks. The taste difference is like the difference between cherry-flavored Nyquil and actual cherries. However, I have only tried the light yellow variety, so maybe other kinds of durian do taste sweetly funky. I would still eat the actual fruit though. I always think real fruit beats fruit-flavoring any day.

    • To me, not really. They’re more sour/tangy than lychees and I think the flesh of lychees is firmer than that of the lanzones. However, there is another fruit here, the longan, that looks more like the lanzones, but tastes like a lychee! But in any case, it seems you can’t go too wrong by eating fruit here that begins with an “L.” ๐Ÿ™‚

      P.S. Ants may have saved me from the baby scorpion actually. When the ants swarmed onto my hand, I immediately yanked my hand out. Later, someone else went to get some lanzones and that’s when they spotted the scorpion. Lesson learned: Ants are a good warning sign that other life may be in the area. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Interesting this conversation we have with our parents. Imagine anyone else in our lives calling us up and asking us, so what fruits did you eat today!! haha

    I don’t think I’ve eaten this fruit before but looks a little bit like tiny mangosteens which I love! And is all over Malaysia. A fruit I don’t love is durians!

    If you ever want to see the swift action and power of the US justice system, try to smuggle one or two fruits back to the States through customs. I accidentally brought an apple back once and they tried to send me out to Guitmo.

    • Although my mom is a wonderfully random conversationalist, conversations about fruit aren’t all that rare with me. Maybe it’s my religion. At the first newspaper I worked at, my friend turned to me and said, “Are you Adventist? You eat a lot of fruit.” ๐Ÿ˜€

      It sorta tastes like mangosteen because it’s both sweet and sour (but mangosteen is better :)). Durian seems to have a love/hate relationship with the world. Although I seem to be in the middle—I like it fresh, but as a flavoring it makes me gag. Odd.

      Dizzam! I sure hope that apple tasted good! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. I am glad you didn’t stick your fingers into that scorpion!
    I also have an uncomfortable memory of sharing the bath tub with one an early morning with candle light only during our mission service in Nigeria. We only had electricity if the generator was on and there was not much water either during the dry season so I just stood in the tub and had a wash. When I finished I discovered the scorpion at the other end of the bath tub. It wasn’t very big but would have been capable of a painful sting if I had accidentally touched it.

    • Eeeeiee โ€” Iโ€™m glad you didnโ€™t get stung, too! I have a serious phobia about stinging insects (bees, scorpions, etc.), no matter what their size, and hearing about this shadowy encounter gave me the chills. Thanks for sharing a great story!

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