- Naomi Tao
- November 21, 2019
As you might have figured out by now, a big part of traveling is food. Food is powerful. It is the great connector—shaping our memories and cultivating community. Friends and strangers alike share their cultural traditions, their favorite foods, and their most treasured recipes.
You probably have your own story about how food has impacted your life. Maybe it’s the experience of sharing a family meal or a time when you tried something new (and delicious).
Surely, you’ll have some unforgettable food experiences on one of Rustic Pathways’ high school summer travel programs, but before you go, learn about some of the unique fruits and vegetables you’ll see in markets around the world.
Latin America and Southeast Asia
The dragon fruit—cultivated in Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and throughout tropical regions across the world—gets its name from its colorful leathery skin and spikes. Some say the fruit’s texture is similar to that of the kiwi because of its seed-speckled flesh. Though it’s flavor is bland and only mildly sweet, the magenta variety makes up for taste with colorful drama.
Summer travel programs to experience dragon fruit:
China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand: Ultimate Asia
Thailand: Amazing Thailand
Native to the tropical regions of South and Central America, the pejibaye has incredible regional diversity leading to a number of fruit colors and sizes. The fruit is edible, but must be cooked before consuming. The texture is similar to a sweet potato, and the flavor is nutty like a chestnut. (Fun fact: The pejibaye comes from the same palm as hearts of palm)
Summer travel programs to experience pejibaye:
Costa Rica: Heart of the Jungle
Peru: Andes to Amazon
The latundan banana—cultivated across Southeast Asia—actually derives its name from Claude Letondal, a French clergyman who introduced it to the region from India. The fruit has become popular across Southeast Asia in local desserts because of its silky texture and sweet, full-bodied flavor. It makes an incredible banana fritter!
Summer travel programs to experience the latundan banana:
Cambodia: Floating Village Service Expedition
Vietnam: Hanoi to Ha Long
Though the potato origins lie in the Andes of South America—the Andes are home to more than 4,000 varieties of native potatoes—it is commonly consumed across the world as a staple food. These starchy tubers can be sweet or savory, big and small.
Summer travel programs to experience potatoes:
India: Himalayan Explorer
Peru: Sacred Valley Service
Asia and Latin America
Native to tropical Southeast Asia, starfruit is now cultivated and consumed throughout tropical climates. The fruit gets its name from its distinctive ridges that make it resemble a star when cut into cross-sections. The entire fruit is edible and the flavor can vary from sweet to sour.
Summer travel programs to experience starfruit:
Costa Rica: Heart of the Jungle
Laos: Come With Nothing, The Mekong Expedition
Follow along with The Global Table for more food tips, stories, and recipes.
Creative Lead and Graphic Designer
Born in London and raised in St. Louis, Naomi learned the importance of global citizenship and community building at an early age. Her passion for these things and her love of travel led her to Rustic —first as a student and again in 2013 after graduating from the University of Southern California with degrees in fine art and marketing. When Naomi is not managing the Rustic Pathways brand or packing her bags for yet another adventure, you can find her learning about sustainable agriculture, cultivating fruits and vegetables in her garden, or catering intimate dinner parties for family and new friends.