My Tho (pronounced mee-toh) is known for its huge district of exotic fruits and offers the best reality shows this side of the Pacific. Life happens and has no time for anyone to stop; you can be part of it or you can get out of the way.
The Mekong River Delta is the richest and most fertile area in Vietnam; the river itself has its source as far north as Tibet and passes through more countries in Asia than any other river. The name signifies the river ďof nine dragons;Ē the atmosphere is languid and the heat is tough; the mangroves rule the swamps; and the canalsí dark waters have tales to tell.
My Tho is the first stop on our bus tour, and we are going to get a lesson on exotic fruit; even if you are not passionate on the subject, the mere color and shape of some of these delicacies will change your mind. It appears that the durian has earned its place as king among the peers; it is huge, green on the outside, and smells like Camembert cheese on the inside. Hold your nose and take a bite. We are also getting a culture lesson about wedding protocol: the betel leaf and areca fruit, which make teeth almost black, must be presented during the ceremony. The richer the family, the more betel and areca will be bestowed. The rambutan is very similar to lychee and tastes like a sweet, chewy apple. I just purchased some canned rambutan from a local Vietnamese market in New York, and itís not quite the same. The most attractive to me was the dragonfruit, because it looked like a flower about to bloom. It has interesting black seeds inside and a white flesh, so that when it is cut, the red rind gives it a really lovely frame. We then stopped near a basket that held huge, brownish, seeded, pancake-like wheels, and surprise! Itís a special type of banana that is eaten as a vegetable and apparently does wonders for rheumatism and kidney stones. I love to hear about these medicinal remedies, all of which are handed down from the Chinese.
The nhan fruit is Vietnamís most profitable: farmers in the Delta have already sacrificed coconut farming for this fruit, as it is favored by China, and considering the population of 1.3 billion, well, itís mad fruit!!! The star apple or vu gua is very sweet and creamy. You will also see oi , which is guava; doai , which is mango; dua , which is pineapple; and lots of others.
The main street is where most of the fruit vendors are, but you also can see stalls in the side streets as well. Venture into the inside market, where you can witness expert hands core and shape fresh pineapple; the smell of ngoc mam may kill you, but forge ahead.