Eating Troppo

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JCNN’s International student journalist explored North Queensland’s favourite tropical fruits, and found eating local means eating healthy.

By Stine Pjaaten

As a tropical state, Northern Queensland is blessed with the ability to grow an amazing number of fresh and exotic fruits and vegetables. International students may choose an apple or banana instead because they don’t know how to approach or eat these unfamiliar fruits. However, I defied my fears and decided to try them. I think you should, too.

Lychee

Lychee is a small round fruit originally from China. It has been considered a symbol of romance, and as a Chinese tradition was offered as a good-luck charm for New Year. The peel is kind of leathery, but is easy to peel off. This is how you should eat it. Just peel it and eat it natural. It tastes sweet, and is really juicy. I tried having lychee in a Thai red curry with duck. I had never tasted the fruit before, but I think the sweet fruit blends perfectly in with the spicy dish. Recommended!

Paw Paw

The next fruit has a funny name – paw paw. After reading about it, I realised it’s the same as papaya, which I have heard of before but never tried. A paw paw looks like some kind of a melon, oval shaped and with orange flesh. You cut it in half like a sugar melon and scoop out the seeds. You can add it to a fruit salad or just eat it off the skin. It tastes sweet, and the flesh is really soft and juicy. According to australiantropicalfruits.org.au, you can use the raw paw paw like a vegetable with meat or in a salad as well.

Pineapple

Pineapple at home (Norway) is very expensive, but in northern Australia you can get a whole pineapple for $2. If you think you have tasted a nice pineapple before, I can almost assure you that the pineapples you get in the summer here are the sweetest; most juicy you will ever taste. It’s almost like you can drink the whole fruit. I ended up eating a whole pineapple myself. I just couldn’t stop. This is also the perfect snack to bring to uni, just cut it in pieces and bring in a little container. Try mixing it together with bites of mango or some fresh strawberries – yum! But beware of the rough leaves, as they may stick you. The easiest way to eat it is to cut off the bottom and the top, slice the fruit into wedges and eat the flesh away from the skin.

Mango

The mango is known to be ‘a part of every Queenslander’s childhood’, and mango season is a big part of the north Australian summer. I’ve heard that you can pick mangoes off trees planted on the street footpaths. That’s why I almost can’t wait until mango season starts in November. The colour of the fruit changes from green (when it’s not ripe) to either yellow or red when it’s ready to eat. When you press the fruit with your fingers it should ‘give a little’, but it’s important that’s its not too soft, then the mango is too ripe. Eating a mango can be very messy because it’s so juicy, but I learned that if you cut it along the big seed in the middle, and use a knife to score the flesh, you can bend the peel backwards and either cut the cubes off the skin, or just eat it off the skin. The sweet mango fits perfectly in a dessert or a fruit salad, but it is also very enjoyable for dinner. Why don’t you try a mango chicken salad for dinner tonight? Roast some pine nuts to have on top – delicious!

Now I can’t wait to try other exotic fruits such as passionfruit, achacha, star apple, persimmon, custard apple, guava… the list can go on forever, and they’re all grown here in northern Queensland. Fruits are great sources of vitamins, minerals and fibres. They consist of almost no fat, but give a lot of energy. It is proven that fruit and vegetables can help prevent cancer and heart diseases to develop. In other words, to explore all the tasty treats the Australian summer has to offer must be the easiest way to eat healthy!