The Unvegan

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Strange Fruits: Dragon Fruit

Or is it a pitaya?

If you saw something like this growing in the wild would your first thought be to eat it? Mine wouldn’t be, but I would regret that decision because this here is a dragon fruit. Originally from the Americas, the dragon fruit has somehow become a fruit much more associated with Southeast Asia. And while it is striking on the outside, it’s even more striking what it looks like on the inside.

You see, when you cut one of these things open, what you find is a bunch of white flesh that seems to be interspersed with poppy seeds. I should add that some are purple on the inside instead, but still filled with those poppy seeds. The white ones are beautiful because of the contrast, but more importantly they taste delicious.

Poppy fruit!

The flavor is somewhere between a kiwifruit and a watermelon, with a texture that also falls somewhere on that spectrum. It’s also super refreshing, especially when you are in Vietnam in the middle of the summer and you feel like you could die because of the heat and humidity.

Recently, the dragon fruit has made its way into health food stores in the US, such as smoothie spots and is now going by the name of “pitaya.” Technically, yes, that is also a name for this fruit, but I also suspect it’s a whole lot easier to get people to pay an exorbitant price for something called a pitaya over something called a dragon fruit. Marketing research does wonders.

But alas, if you have not tried a dragon fruit I can do nothing but highly recommend it. Just, you know, don’t be surprised if it’s called a pitaya and costs a whole lot more than you were expecting. Well, unless you’re in Vietnam in the middle of the hot and humid summer, of course.