I stopped in Viet Wah in the ID to pick up some supplies, and spotted a fruit there that I haven't seen outside Asia: rambutans. They look, as one coworker said, like tribbles, or if you're not a Star Trek fan, like hairy red . . . thingies. But when you peel off the rind, inside is a translucent white fruit that tastes like a tangy, sweet-almond-flavored lychee. Deee-licious.
A little Web research revealed that the rambutans probably came from Hawaii, Florida, or Honduras, though Thailand is petitioning to be able to export them to the States. It makes sense that Viet Wah would have rambutans, having learned from Lynn Jacobson's recent article that the supermarket chain's owner got his start importing durians to the United States (which, you would know if you have ever smelled them, qualifies as a dubious achievement). During a trip to the MLK Way branch a few weeks ago, I picked up some ripe-ripe-ripe fresh jackfruit, which shot to the top of my list of all-time favorite fruits this spring, when I tasted it for the first time in Thailand.
I know, I know, I refuse to buy Chilean grapes and New Zealander apples in favor of local fruit, but spend $6.99/pound on Honduran rambutans or Southeast Asian jackfruit? Every now and again appetite trumps ethics.