Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Drinking Daiquiris If You’re Allergic To Rum

Anyone who regularly reads this blog (hi Mum) will know I’ve got a bit of a thing about smoothies. I go through stages, but out here in Saigon I’ve been having a smoothie for breakfast most afternoons.

Vitamin C is vitally important in the tropics. I was told that by an American I met in a bar who claims to have been a Navy Seal during the Vietnam War. He’s been living in SE Asia for the past 40 years, and helps run a charity clearing land mines now. Anyway, as we drank a few beers he kept devouring lime quarters, and was horrified when I told him I hardly ate fruit.

“You gotta eat fruit buddy. You ain’t got a rat’s chance out here without the fucking fruit, man” he said. “It’s the vitamin C - you’re body can’t store it. You need to keep stocking the shit up.”

He was an ex-forces agent who wades through jungle swamps with king cobra serum in a holster on one leg, and viper serum on the other, and has “fired every Goddamn weapon on this earth”, so I wasn’t going to argue with his knowledge of vitamins, or anything else for that matter. He told me fruit was the only way to prevent getting serious stomach problems and other infections in Asia, and that lime juice and fresh coconut juice were the best.

His basis for the healing powers of the latter seemed to be based on the fact he can’t drink rum without it. He said he’d always been badly allergic to rum, but a Thai business client persuaded him to drink it with fresh coconut milk one hot afternoon, and he was able to down six daiquiris.

Ever since that conversation, I’ve been squeezing lime juice into my beer, and eating those bitter little oranges, and starting the day with what I am now convinced is the best smoothie in the world – mango and passion fruit. I was put on to it by a woman who runs a fruit stall (video above) at the end of the narrow alley that leads into the muggy catacomb where my hotel is regularly hidden.

There’s something nice about sitting on a plastic chair in the gutter, watching the world go by as you wait for your smoothie to be made. It brought back memories of Cartagena in Colombia. There are dozens of jugo sellers near the harbour, and it’s quite an event to sit at a bar and pick your fruit from big glass jars and see them whizzed into delicious shakes.

My favourite was always banana con leche, and it was so thick I didn’t need much else to eat for the rest of the day. There was always an old ship hand, dressed in rags, hanging round the stands, hustling tourists. “Banana, or...marijuana?” he’d whisper.

They make them the same way in Vietnam – blitzing fruit with ice, sugar and condensed or evaporated milk (just substitute strong coffee for fruit to make Vietnam’s famous iced coffee drink, ca phe da). But if you’re going for the passion fruit and mango you don’t need the milk and sugar – they’re creamy and sweet enough already.

To make it, peel a sweet mango by shaving the skin off away from you with a sharp knife. Then sit the fruit, so the widest part is in your palm, and make cuts downwards, then run the blade tight against the stone to remove the flesh. Cut two passion fruit in half, and using a spoon, scrape out the pips and juice. Put the fruit in the blender with crushed ice, and blitz for at least one minute to make sure it is properly smooth, then wander round hot, steamy streets and drink it through a straw. It’s the best thirst-quencher in the world after green Saigon poured over lumps of ice.

For More: Raw food smoothies
and live frog smoothies

1 comment:

Dominic said...

is that you chatting to her in the local lingo?