Fruit. Veg. It’s confusing out here. One minute you’re strolling along a quiet, shady lane in the park and the next you’re confronted with a load of enormous green dildos hanging from the sky. Except they’re not hanging from the sky, they’re hanging from vines, and they’re not enormous green dildos, they’re the eye-wateringly shaped vegetable known as gourds.
Yeah. Gourds. They’re a Thing. They’re like cucumbers, if cucumbers tasted like armpit-flavoured celery.
Fruit and veg out here isn’t what you imagine it to be. I mean, it’s incredibly varied and utterly delicious and everything, but it’s just not quite what you EXPECT.
Take pineapples. I discovered the truth about pineapples last Christmas. There we were, driving on the road to Chiang Mai quite innocently, when this pineapple-shaped monstrosity appeared along the road. Not being one to pass up an opportunity to admire gaudy fruit-shaped statues, I convinced James to stop so we could explore. It was some kind of weird pineapple-themed rest stop. Because… y’know… pineapples.
James got out, ordered a cha nom yen, and my eyes were snagged by a field, rows of small, spikey-leaved explosions planted at regular intervals along farrowed ground. I wandered over and stared for a second before my sun-fried brain (look, it was the middle of the day, ok?) suddenly realised what I must be looking at.
“Oh!” I said, actually exclaiming out loud like some badly-written Thai drama version of myself, “Pineapples grow underground?”
I’d never bothered to wonder before this how pineapples grew. I suppose I’d assumed they grew on trees like coconuts. Come on, palm tree leaves look a lot like pineapple leaves.
My other half had meandered over by this point. He stopped beside me and stared at the plants in front of us.
“What are you talking about?”
“Pineapples,” I explained, surprised and pleased by my revelation, “they grow underground. I always thought they grew on trees! This is so weird!”
It was as if the world had been off-kilter, but now it was balanced. Everything made sense.
The Other Half, who grew up in Thailand and so knows better, stares at me. Stares a bit longer. Then starts to smile suspiciously, like I’m making fun of him.
“I’d just never thought about it before,” I explain, feeling the new knowledge push back the boundaries of reality in my brain, basking in the warmth of my newfou…
James starts laughing.
“I can totally see how you’d think that!”
He continues laughing, which I appreciate not a lot at all. I turn up the volume on my scowl. Add some narrowed eyes. Inexplicably, he doesn’t burst into flames.
I venture to ask him what he’s on about.
“Pineapples” he explains, helpfully. “I see why you’d think that.”
Not exactly over-endowed with patience in my daily life, I take an extremely long, extremely deep, extremely slow breath in.
“What,” I ask in my most patient voice, “do you mean?”
“They’re not like potatoes,” He tells me, as if I hadn’t realised the difference, “They grow on top of the plant”.
Clearly that’s ridiculous.
In fact, the only thing that could be more ridiculous than the idea of pineapples growing on top of the leaves of these weird, spiky plants is the fact that this is ACTUALLY HOW THEY GROW.
In real life. Like, this actual reality.
Never mind that bananas grow upside down, with the neck at the bottom and the bottom pointing towards the sky. Never mind that jackfruit hang down from tree trunks like uncomfortably swollen and dangerously spikey tree scrotums (and taste like perfumed condom-fruits). Never mind that dragonfruit come from creeping cactuses and durien… well, imagine the most wonderfully fragranced flowers you’ve ever experienced. Imagine meadows and meadows of them. Imagine them in the sun. Decaying. Cloying. Rot-warm and sickly soft on the inside, flowery cum custard.
But never mind it. That’s nothing. Pineapples grow, absurdly, on giraffe stalks in the middle of bushes.
Did you all already know this?