Chrysanthemum Tea: Missives from Malaysia no.2

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Like the people the food in Malaysia is an eclectic blend of Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes. A typical breakfast included satay, dim sum and naan. And of course, I loaded up on the tropical fruit. There were the familiar mangoes, pineapples and papayas. And then there was the dragon fruit, which I had never tried. It had a lightly sweet white flesh with lots of little black seeds and a pink rind.

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I’m a firm believer in trying the local tap water. What better more intimate way than to really get to know your host country. Drink their water. My stomach is lined with steel so I don’t recommend this to everyone. But the clearest impressions of places have come from their water. Barcelona, for instance, had milky sulfuric water. That was about as bad as it gets. Any water in a mountain town is usually delicious. Malaysia’s was quite neutral. It was clear, not laden with heavy chemicals. Being an island nation, I expected a salty aftertaste. But it was neutral by all measures, and it was better than the local bottled water.

Another litmus test is the coffee. Every coffee I had in Malaysia was a bit weak and even watery. I observed that most of the locals seemed to favor milk tea.

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I also like to try the local drinks I see in stores. I found a can of chrysanthemum tea. And I wasn’t surprised to find that it tasted like chrysanthemums. The base was a lightly sweet water, not syrupy. If you want to know what flowers taste like, this is it.

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