Just outside our hotel, there’s a family restaurant (Warung Soto Pak Ndimo) that consists of a food stall and a single open-air table hiding beneath their house’s awning. The food is cheap, delicious, and fresh, and the family is oh-so-sweet and accommodating of our utter dependency on pointing, smiling, and Google Translate to communicate (though the wife speaks a few words of English).
And tonight after dinner they were amazingly kind and gave us a GIFT! It’s got scaly skin, but it’s not any kind of animal.
We’ve seen these things in the marketplace here but have no idea what they are. The wife tells us that they’re called “salak” and shows us how to peel away the scaly skin to reveal a cream-colored fruit below. We take a nibble and it’s like a tropical apple: a bit tangy, but mostly sweet and crisp. It’s not as juicy as an apple, but that just means we don’t make a sticky mess as we bite through the tiny fruits. At the end of eating, all that’s left is a large stone from the middle.
Some searches on “salak” reveal that it’s a ubiquitous, super popular Indonesian fruit that’s hard to get pretty much anywhere else. While I thought it might be related to lychee and rhambutan (given the stone in the middle), it’s actually the fruit of a native Indonesian palm. While I don’t think you can get them fresh in the U.S., I think the dried, crunchy chip version has made it to the States, so if you want a taste of the fruit’s flavor see if your local Asian market has some.