The variety of fruit available in Java is astounding. With a temperature that varies only slightly from month to month, and an even parsing of day and night throughout the year--sunrise and sunset forever between five and six--Java is not an island one would expect to find seasonal differences in what fruit is available. Although certain fruit is available throughout the year, papaya, for example, others such as klengkeng (longan, a fruit similar to lychee) and rambutan (another fruit related to lychees) are only available for a month or two.
It is my misfortune that my favorite variety of mango, and the one that is generally most prized in Indonesia, harum manis (sweet smelling), is not really in season in Java during the months Tjing and I are able to visit. After tasting the mangoes that are available in Indonesia (and there are tens of different varieties), I am always disappointed by those I get in California.
Yesterday my sister-in-law Lili brought home a new fruit for me to try. Apel hutan (forest apple) are about the size of softballs. The light green exterior is of a cork-like consistency, firm yet yielding, about a quarter inch thick. The ivory flesh is the texture of honeydew melon that has just passed the peak of ripeness. The taste is reminiscent of honeydew as well, but without the aggressive sweetness.
Sliced in half, each half serves as its own bowl. The flesh is spooned from the shell like a creamy pudding. I can find no mention of this fruit elsewhere and Tjing and others in her family had never had it before either. Perhaps it is known by a different name elsewhere? If you have any information on this, I’d love to hear it.