Southern food is
as distinctive as its scenery. Not surprisingly, the coconut, which grows
widely throughout the region, plays a prominent role in many southern
dishes for its milk tempers the heat of chili, its oil used for frying,
and its grated meat serves as a condiment.
Also only expected
is the abundance of fresh seafood from the surrounding waters. Cashew
nuts from local plantations are eaten as appetizers or stir-fried with
chicken and dried chilies, while a pungent flat bean (Sataw) adds an exotic,
somewhat bitter flavor much admired by southern diners. Regional fruits
include finger-sized bananas, mangosteens, durian, and small sweet pineapples.
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