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Memories and Dragon Fruit

April 2, 2010

Lately I have been really missing my trip to India and Southeast Asia.  I miss the excitement of wandering around foreign cities and learning about cultures that were so new to me.  I miss being carefree and having my greatest stress be choosing what to do with my day.  I miss meeting new friends from all over the world and the spontaneity of experiences.  I just really miss it all.

I have always loved learning about other cultures, but there is just something that is so special when you have the chance to see the cultures in person.  It relaxes me to be in a place that is so foreign and so far away from home.  It makes me feel irrelevant in the world in a positive way.  In reality I am really just a little speck in this great, huge world of people.  This thought makes me feel like I should have nothing to stress about because really my life is so insignificant in the whole grand scheme of things.  We all have bad days, we all have good days.  It’s just how the world turns.

Although I am hugely homesick from my travels, I am feeling more and more grateful for living in New York.  I pretty much have always loved living here, but I am now opening my eyes to parts of the city that I had overlooked previously.  How lucky am I that I live in a city that is perhaps one of the most diverse in the world?

I remember when I landed at the airport returning from my travels, tears just streamed from eyes.  My adventure was over.  No more excitement.  I took the subway home and as I sulked an older African man boarded with his drums.  He had a great big smile and an aura that exuded happiness.  He proceeded to sing upbeat songs for the passengers and talk to everyone in between lines.  As much of a challenge that it was, he managed to cheer me up.  Hey, it wasn’t Asia but this wasn’t Alabama either.  I just needed to open my eyes and see that there are adventures waiting to be experienced here too.

Chinatown (NYC), dim sum

Recently I met up with friends in Chinatown for dim sum at Jing Fong, and after lunch I headed out on my own and spent some time roaming around Chinatown.  Once I left the tourist infested Canal street region, I found myself on little streets that made me feel like I was in a whole other country.  China to be exact.

It felt so good to explore this area and wander into the various stores where there were no tourists and the only language I heard spoken was Chinese.  Of course my favorite places were the food shops.  The smells, the labels filled with Chinese writing, the interesting products that seem so foreign to me…it was so fun to see!  I also managed to pick up some items that I had learned about in the last issue of Saveur.

I was also really impressed by the produce in the markets.  They had vegetables that I have never seen before, but my favorite find was seeing the Dragon fruit.  This was all over Vietnam and Thailand when I was there.  I clearly remember the first time I ate it.  I was in Halong Bay beginning a two-day cruise on a traditional junk boat with about 10 others.  Some of us had just been on the roof top of the boat soaking in the views and talking about how excited we were to be experiencing this gorgeous scenery.  We were literally giddy with excitement.  We drank local beers and listened Moby’s “Porcelain” on some little speakers that an English guy brought.  We then headed down to the main floor for a fresh seafood lunch and for dessert dragon fruit was served.

I had seen this odd yet beautiful looking fruit in the markets back in Hanoi so I was so excited to finally try it.  It was just so foreign to me.  The outside is pretty funky looking—vivid, pink skin with curved, green spikes jetting out.  After cutting open this fruit, I could see that the inside is equally interesting—white with black seeds sprinkled throughout it.  The taste was even foreign to me.  I expected it to be sweeter, but it was actually almost savory with just a hint of sweetness.  The texture was like a dense watermelon.  I found it so refreshing.

So back in Chinatown I of course I had to buy it.  I’ve been eating it as I write this and as you can tell, it has helped bring back a lot of the memories.  Just like a song can take you back to a specific time and memory, food can as well for me.  I find it quite poetic that Moby’s “Porcelain” just played in my random selection of music that I am listening to.

Cheers.

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