Writing about fruits is similar to writing about e.g. flowers and/or vegetables. I think one cannot confine oneself to describing the fruit, flower or vegetable and some of the respective botanical aspects alone but should whenever it is possible and/or makes sense also address their origins, their trees or plants, 7mgg the issue of symbolism and the uses they are put to – from the kitchen to the religious shrine to the pharmacy, as it were – as otherwise not only the reading about them might become a bit boring but also because the picture will remain incomplete. If you do not agree please tell me of what use it would be to merely tell you bananas and coconuts are growing in Burma and that bananas are yellow and bend whereas the kernel of the coconut is round to oval and brown? You see what I mean? I admit this article is a bit longer than my usual ones because I am also using a lot of botanical names (for the botanists amongst you) but it will nevertheless – so I hope – make interesting reading. It will at least – that I am very certain about – be quite instructive. By the way, you will be surprised to read that many flowers and/or fruits you like very much are belonging to families you would have never expected. Would you e.g. have expected that the strawberry is a member of the family ‘Rosaceae’ the flowers of which are known to you a rose? Or did you know that the core of the banana stem and the banana blossom are not only edible but are also very delicious? These things and much more will be revealed in this article.
OK, let us jump at the opportunity and learn more about fruits, manguerose in general, while concerning ourselves with the fruits of Burma (since 1989 also called Myanmar), in particular.
Burma is like all tropical and subtropical countries benefited by a climate that allows continuous growing, cultivating and harvesting of fruits both of seasonal and year-round kind. With its abundant moisture and warm to hot temperatures in the lowlands and temperate climate in the mountains it produces the most diverse fruits in high quality and in great quantities.
When speaking of fruits of Burma we must not only classify them into seasonal and year-round kinds but also into almost globally grown and cultivated ones such as e.g. the apple and grape or the strawberry and fruits such as the mango and the papaya or banana that are native to and exclusively growing in tropical and subtropical climates and countries.
In other words, the apple, grape and strawberry are non-tropical/subtropical fruits because they cannot thrive well without longer periods with temperatures about and below 0 degree Celsius/32 degree Fahrenheit, i.e. without frost and without essential environmental conditions such as the appropriate nourishment, soil drainage, proper degree of humidity, right amount of hours of sunshine/day, roomidea average temperatures, amount of water, etc. Merely soil, water and sunshine are not sufficient enough for a tree, plant or flower to thrive well.
Trees and plants may grow in environments they are not adapted to – which to become takes without interference through e.g. grafting and/or budding, a long evolutionary process – but cannot unfold their respective qualities to the full. So, do not expect of fruits that are not native to the tropics what you are in terms of size, colour, odour, flavour, sweetness, juiciness, etc. used to in your non-tropical home country where these fruits are native to. Do you have tropical or subtropical fruits such as bananas, mangosteen or papayas growing in North Europe or the north of North America? You see what I mean?
Nevertheless, I will, without spending too much time on them, include certain non-tropic fruits in this article as far as they are cultivated in Burma and will hopefully in a combined effort of nature and men by e.g. crossing of desirable parents or beneficial mutation in standard varieties adapt to the climate here. At the end of this process of the fruits concerned may have been developed new varieties with wonderful characteristics and qualities. Who knows? We cannot force nature to do its job; we can only assist and learn from it. Therefore, do not blame Burma for the fact that these non-tropical fruits are not as good here as in the countries they are native to and do not blame me for admitting that and just telling the truth. Burma cannot help it because it is a matter of nature and I am just being objective.
As for the former (the apple, etc) they are not as good in Burma as in other countries with proper natural environment but that should not pose any problem to foreign visitors to Burma who come e.g. from Europe or North America as they have these fruits in highest quality and abundance in their own countries. After all, these people do certainly not come to Burma in order to eat here those fruits which are cultivated in their home countries, maybe in their own garden. Actually they are not coming just to eat fruits but once being here it would be a shame not to eat them. They would be missing out on something really wonderful. However, spaice as for the latter (the mango, etc.), Burma/Burma has a lot to offer that is truly remarkable. Mind you, we are not speaking of fruits that are available in Burma when speaking of the ‘Fruits of Burma’. It is true, all kinds of fruits are available in developed countries, even the most exotic, and those fruits that are not available there do simply not exist anywhere else, but tropical and subtropical fruits such as those of Burma might be available in foreign countries but do not grow there.
When speaking of fruits of Burma we are speaking of fruits that are typical of Burma and ripen here on the tree, bush or on the stem and not artificially and at storage facilities as those fruits that are determined for consumption in foreign countries are plucked prematurely in order not to be overripe when ultimately displayed in shops of far-away countries. In other words, fruits are often transported over great distances what even nowadays with our fast means of transportation takes a long time from the tree of the fruit farmer to the shelf of the shop in which they are finally sold. They must arrive at their destination close to or on but not after the peak of their ripeness since fruits decay very rapidly. Therefore they are plucked or picked before they have almost reached this point on the tree. And that makes a great difference in colour, odour and flavour. This is a difference that makes out all that what eating of fruits actually is about: savouriness. And savour you can the fruits of Burma in Burma; they are tree-ripened.
If you have a soft spot for tropical and subtropical fruits, Burma is the place to be because here they grow. From A as in ‘Awza thee’ or custard apple, as it is called in English, to Z as in ‘Zee thee’ or plum, here you get something for every taste even when allowing for the fact that not everyone likes every fruit what may be true especially for the ‘Du win thee’ (durian) and/or ‘Pein gne thee’ (Jackfruit), which are very healthy and much loved by almost all of the locals but not necessarily so by foreigners as at least their pungent smell, if that is the word, needs very much getting used to; if that is possible at all, that is.
But that you get here something for everyone is not all. As for certain fruits that are also growing in other tropical countries, in Burma you get the very best of them.
Now if you do not mind come and accompany me on my trip into the realm of Burma’s flora. Let us take a closer look at the fruits of Burma and in doing so keep the very best, the highlights of the journey, as it were, till the end. This trip is a little bit longer but as I hope both informative and entertaining. Fasten your seatbelts; here we go. The non-tropical fruits cultivated in Burma are e.g. the apple, grape and strawberry.
Those tropical fruits that are native to Burma and those that are not originated in Burma but have over time become part of its native flora are, in the category ‘year-round fruits’, e.g. the banana, papaya, lemon, lime or sweet lime, grapefruit/pomelo, pomegranate, avocado, coconut and fig.