Tag Archives: grapefruit

Wanderlust: Yangon, first impressions, pomelo salad

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My taxi wound its way through an endless arterial road. We were heading towards Yangon downtown. Whenever the car stopped, which was often, I fanned myself – in vain – with the city walking map I found at the airport.

It felt like 90% humidity and close to 40C (100F). This is not Sydney winter anymore.

I was travelling alone, going into a country that I knew almost nothing about. When we were flying into the airport, I looked out the window and saw rice paddies, with golden stupas (pagodas) that stood out for miles around. If I were a child, I would have held my breath from sheer excitement. I whispered to myself, I am looking at a Burmese stupa. I am in Myanmar. I am a traveller in Myanmar. Exotic, humid, colourful, unknown Myanmar.

The taxi wound its way past concrete walls inscribed with the curly, circular Burmese script. Past men and women wearing longyis. Past a school where girls and boys wore white shirts and green longyis. Past more people, fruit stalls, durians, traffic, and there was my hotel.

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That afternoon was a jumble of noise and wires and food stalls and people and more moments of holding my breath – as I walk between street stalls, past more durians, into the traffic to cross the road. Streets of British colonial-era buildings, decaying before my eyes, fern and moss reclaiming them for the swamp that Yangon was built on. Footpaths covered by street stalls, pedestrians walking, fearless, slow and longyi-clad, on the road.

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A tale of two citruses – lemon and grapefruit curd

On an afternoon stroll, I saw a cardboard box outside a terrace house with bright yellow, knobbly citrus inside. There was a bit of paper stuck on the box that said ‘FREE / lemon and grapefruit’.

I took four at random. One was a large grapefruit, two that might have been large grapefruits or small lemons, and one very small lemon. They filled the house with a real citrus smell: intense, sun ripened on the branch, full of lush oils in the zest.

I thought about ways to celebrate this bounty, and remembered my first taste of lemon curd:

We were talking to a friend’s neighbour, an immaculately flamboyant gentleman in an impeccably restored terrace house. Knowing our love of books, he showed us through his book collection. We marvelled at shelves of leather bound volumes and rare-ish editions, and tried not to stare at the jade-green peacock feathers, tropical fronds and other mad hatter-esque decor that crowded every wall and ceiling. As a finale, he took us into the kitchen and gave us each a spoonful of quivering, pale golden lemon curd he was serving at dinner that evening.

Since then, lemon curd – really tart lemon curd – has had an allure associated with that impeccable, mad hatter-esque house.

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