Lumyai, also known as longan, is another of north Thailand's succulent, delicious fruits and the season is upon us! You will see them in Chiangmai's supermarkets and fresh markets clusters of small, brown fruit (about the size of a large grape) still attached to a bouquet of green leaves and thin branches. This is the best way to eat them straight from the branch as nature intended. The flesh surrounds a shiny brown seed and is opalescent with a delicate flavor, giving a good balance between sweetness and acidity. The outer "shell" is very thin and readily peeled away to reveal the moist, juicy meat.
Lumyai orchards abound in the countryside around Chiangmai and about 26 kms. South to the ancient city of Lumpoon, where a festival devoted to the fruit is held every year. This year, the Lumyai Fruit Festival is being held from 26 July to 4 August 2002 in the evenings from 16.00-24.00 Hrs. From Chiangmai it's a 15 baht bus ride.
Festival-goers will be treated to the cultural parades, (during the morning of Saturday, August 10) fairs, music and activities that make a northern Thai festival so much fun. While there will be a beauty contest for the selection of a "Miss Lumyai Orchard" winner, equally serious judgment will fall on Lumyai growers who present their fruit for official inspection. Festival Judges will look for size, quality, texture and flavor. Of course, no food festival is complete without an eating contest. Competitors in the Lumyai Eating Contest will find that if one is going to gorge, then lumyai seem a better option than chilies!
Lumpoon, an ancient city founded somewhere between 660-760 A.D. and rebuilt in the early 16th century. The inner city is still encircled by the moat and wall built at that time. It's amazing to think that today's small, quiet city was once the capital of a great pre Thai Kingdom, the Haripoonshai, more than a thousand years ago. It enjoyed independence until it was conquered and incorporated into the Thai Lanna Kingdom in 1281.
A glimpse into the past can be seen at the city museum, which is filled with rare relics from the Haripoonchai period. The city's two major wats, Prathart Haripoonshai and Jarmmathaewee, also offer a look at the ancient city's history. Lumpoon is another attraction worth seeing during your stay in northern Thailand, and there may be no better time to go than during the Lumyai Festival.
A Great Grandmother reported once that lumyai fruit does not loose flavor during cooking, and passed down one of her secret recipes (alas, it will be secret no more). It's called Savoury Lumyai and is an entree with a difference. Canned lumyai may be used but the fresh fruit is best:
Fry crushed garlic and coriander seeds in oil. When garlic is golden, add all other ingredients EXCEPT the lumyai flesh. Cook and stir until the mixture is brown and fairly dry. Add lumyai. Continue to cook over low heat for about 2 minutes and mix well. Serve with Melba Toast as an entree, or with steamed rice as a main.
Enjoy the recipe, the luscious lumyai fruit and the Lumpoon Lumyai Festival.
Note : This year the province of Lumpoon arranges a Walking Street, between 16.00 to 24.00 hrs. on 9 to 12 August 2002, which has at least 8 attractive activities. These activities with beautiful Thai slogans would certainly make visitors feel at home and enjoy temples, Lanna musical instruments and shows, Buddhist amulets, Art and cultural shows, longan wine, cotton and silk, northern food and shows, and exports.
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