- Naomi Tao
- March 12, 2021
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.
The jocote is a small tropical fruit native to the Americas and particularly popular in Costa Rica and the Caribbean. Its name comes from the Nahuatl word xocotl, meaning sour fruit. The fruit is said to taste similar to a plum when ripe.
Summer travel programs to experience jocote:
Costa Rica: Turtle Conservation Project
Peru: Andes to Amazon
Southeast Asia and Latin America
Though the exact origins of the mangosteen are unknown, it’s thought to have come from the islands of Southeast Asia due to its widespread cultivation in the tropical region. The white flesh of the purple mangosteen is sweet and tart, juicy and fibrous. The rind and seeds are inedible.
Summer travel programs to experience mangosteen:
Thailand: Amazing Thailand
Vietnam: Ultimate Asia
Originating in the Pacific Islands, fresh coconuts are cultivated in tropical and subtropical climates around the world. Known for its versatility, the coconut can be used in a variety of self care products or consumed in a variety of preparations.
Summer travel programs to experience the coconut:
Fiji: Sun, Sand, and International Service
Dominican Republic: Marine Life and Coastal Restoration
Bird’s Eye Chili
Southeast Asia and Africa
Commonly found in Southeast Asian cuisine, the bird’s eye chili is often also called the Thai chili. It is quite small and varies in color, but packs serious heat. It is in the same Scoville range of the habanero.
Summer travel programs to experience the bird’s eye chili:
Laos: Southeast Asian Adventurer
Thailand: Marine and Rainforest Conservation in Thailand
Asia and Australia
Don’t bring durian on public transportation or into your house. The durian, native to Southeast Asia and cultivated in Australia since the 1960s, is distinctive for its pungent odor and spiky rind. Though some have described the odor as rotting food, the flesh is rich, custardy, and has the essence of almonds.
Summer travel programs to experience durian:
Australia: Seven Wonders of Australia
Thailand: Come With Nothing, The Mekong Expedition
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.