Aromatic Plants · Bengal fruit · fresh fruit · golden fruit · · magical fruit · sparkling fruit · star-fruit · tropical paradise

The Tree of Stars

Nothing too mystical about this title: I am simply referring to starfruit trees! This wonderful tree has always been a staple of my grandfather’s garden, like a talisman it wears. However, until December’s visit to Bangladesh, I had always thought of it as being a hard, raw-green, supremely sour fruit by nature. That probably owed to my dad’s love of weird tastes I fail to empathize with but nevertheless appreciate – mango with paprika, grapefruit with sea-salt – among others. Therefore at some point when I was younger he had given me an under-ripe starfruit, I disliked it, misjudged the virtuous fruit as being unbearably tangy, and never cared for it again.

However on this visit to Bangladesh, I observed on the tree a few ripe starfruits, plumped so that the stellar edges were more reminiscent of a starfish than the bearded dragon look I was familiar with. The colour was an unusual gold, quite different to other gold things that occur in nature. It would have been the colour of honey curdled with the sun, or of an apricot drenched in cinnamon syrup. Against the sky these ripe starfruits looked not like fruit but like funky, gravity-defying shapes of buttery resin.

Tangy, they still are, but much less so than the unripe version I had been familiar with, and not in any way does the taste-bud sensation of ‘tangy’ override the essence of the starfruit’s soul, which is fresh like powder-scented laundry drying in the breeze of a tropical morning. The taste is absolutely liberating and uplifting, and it tastes like what it looks like: pure, clear, radiant, sharp, and life-inspiring. To eat a ripened starfruit under a tropical sun – is to be fuelled with a cosmic energy that is often only seen or felt at night-time in the quietude of sleepy surroundings or the hazy strangeness of dreams. To see and eat starfruit is to be able to witness and experience daytime stars – in all their beautiful, glowing, majestic glory. 



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