Essays & Short Stories

Don’t be alarmed, excited or offended

During my life there have been many unusual and often strange occurrences so I am not easily offended and nothing really surprises me anymore even though it may be shocking. Every young man dreams of being asked by a beautiful woman if he would like a fuk. In fact, every old man probably dreams about it a lot more as his chances are pretty slim. The first time I was asked if I would like a fuk, in Thailand, by a pretty lady I was taken aback but thought ‘maybe this is the way they do things here’. She wasn’t offended when I laughed although she looked at quizzically. Then I realised that as she was about to cook me a meal there could be another meaning to the word ‘fuk’. 

img_0074-300x225 Don't be alarmed, excited or offended
Would you like a ‘fuk’?

Sure enough, much to my dismay, there was. In Thailand ‘fuk’ is the generic term for many kinds of squash or gourd. Although they grow from a vine or creeper naturally on the ground they flourish when they can climb a tree. After the Lam Yai fruit has been picked in Chiang Mai ‘fuk’ comes into its own and many farmers encourage it to grow up the Lam Yai trees.

img_0074-300x225 Don't be alarmed, excited or offended
English: A market stall, at Thanin market in Chiang Mai, selling ready cooked food. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems to grow wild and what amazes me is the speed with which the ‘fuk’ attains a substantial size and weight in a matter of a few weeks. When I first saw it I was a little concerned that it could, like a giant ‘Triffid‘ envelope and strangle the world. But I learned that its growing period, although rapid, is short-lived as it dies back quickly after giving its fruit and is easy to remove from the tree. So effectively farmers who bother get a free interim crop, in late October early November while the Lam Yai trees are resting out of season. Since those early days and the naive, unbridled thrill of being asked the question I have had many different kinds of fuks, all of which have been most satisfying!

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