In Vietnam, you may come across a fruit you probably haven’t seen in Sainsbury’s before.  This is a Vú Sữa:

Vú Sữa - popular in Vietnam
Vú Sữa – it’s a type of fruit.

Translated, Vú Sữa means milky breast.

The fruit comes from a tropical tree native to the West Indies, but now grows in Central America and Southeast Asia, among other places. It’s particularly popular in Vietnam (possibly because it looks more normal than other fruits found there, such as the chôm chôm).

Close up of a Vú Sữa
Big and round – photo: Forest and Kim Starr

Other countries have different, some may say nicer, names for the fruit; star apple, tar apple, golden leaf tree fruit, pom de lait and in Sierra Leone it’s called bobi wata. Say that last one out loud.

At this point I think we can all take a good guess at what it looks like, going by those names. If you’re thinking it probably looks like a dark-skinned apple, with a star pattern and milky coloured juice, you’d be right! 

Vú Sữa - sliced in half
Come on, eat up your bobi wata – photo: Forest and Kim Starr

I’ve never tasted a milky breast fruit but I reckon I’d like it. There’s a knack to eating it apparently – first you have to massage the fruit, then you make a small hole in the skin and tear it open. Then you can eat the fruit with a spoon. It’s said to taste sweet, milky and a bit like a young coconut. And the texture is like a mushy pear.

Vú Sữa growing on a branch
Not normal apples – photo: Ngo Duy Thuong

If the Vú Sữa, is a bit too normal for you, then maybe you’d prefer some other unusual fruit from around the world, such as a noni or a Buddha’s hand?

If you do head out to sample some exotic fruits, don’t forget your travel insurance.

My fruit bowl seems really boring now!