Normal Fruit and Luxury Fruit

After being in SE Asia for a few weeks, I’ve learned something interesting: all fruit is created equal, but some fruit is more equal than others.

By that, what I mean is that in SE Asia, there (as far as I can tell) are two classes of fruit: fruit, and luxury fruit. Fruit is composed of just about what you would expect: all the fruits you have heard of, and many other types of tropical fruit that we don’t get in the states much. Pineapple, mango, starfruit, orange, green orange, papaya, apple, rose apple, dragonfruit, coconut are all examples of “normal” fruit.

You’ll see normal fruit all over the place: market stalls, street vendors, etc. Particularly, you’ll see normal fruit at fruit shake vendors, who just have a little stand with a blender, ice, and racks of fresh fruit, and the’ll juice-slash-blend whatever you want to order. (Yum.)

But then, there’s Luxury Fruit.

Luxury fruit includes durian, mangosteen, jackfruit, and often lychee. Luxury fruit is kept separate from the normal fruit. You will see street-side vendors selling these fruits, but often the vendor will be dedicated to just one of these fruits: just selling durian, or just selling mangosteen. If they sell multiple types, the “luxury” fruit will be kept separate from the rest of the fruit, usually in its own reverent pyramid. You’ll never seen a fruit shake vendor with any of these fruits.

So why the separation? Well, it’s probably pretty obvious: cost. The luxury fruits cost a lot more, perhaps 5x-10x as much as the normal fruit. (I’ll try to do some quantitative analysis next time I’m lugging a 20kg bag and pouring sweat down onto the sidewalk.) The normal fruits have different costs, but as far as something like a fruit shake go, they basically have one cost: pretty cheap.

The other reason for separation, I think (which relates to cost) is seasonality and freshness. The class of luxury fruits spoil very quickly, I believe, and fresh vs. not-fresh ones are tremendously different. So it makes sense to dedicate your business to these products.

This second reason is also the reason why you almost never see any of these fruits in the US (with the occasional exception of lychee).

And this has been your extremely concise introduction to the Periodic Table of Luxury Fruit.