28 Aug

I first heard about mangosteen in an JAL in-flight gift catalog, where of course they list luxury fruits for insane prices that you could purchase as presents for your boss/boss’s boss/parents. (This was in the ’80s, when the Japanese were still living high on the bubble.) There was a selection of tropical fruits, including mangosteen, described as “the queen of tropical fruits.”

Like many tropical fruits, it doesn’t look particularly edible from the outside. I’m not sure who first said, “Hey, let’s crack open this hard rock-like thing and eat whatever’s inside” (probably monkeys), but I’m sure they’re glad they did.

The edible part is the white, fleshy interior. The reddish-brown rind is disgustingly tannic and probably toxic. Tom wouldn’t touch mangosteen for a long time because he made the mistake of trying to eat the whole fruit and was repelled by the rind. The texture is kind of like a fleshier lychee or rambutan, usually with a small nut in the middle of the lobe. The flavor is delectably tangy and sweet, with a lovely tropical floral aroma. If durian is the Lady Gaga of the tropical fruit world, an acquired taste that’s inexplicably popular, then mangosteen is the Princess Di: elegant and easy to love.

And where can you get this delectable fruit? Well, all over SE Asia, obviously, but apparently there are growers in Hawai’i (not that I ever saw any there when I was growing up) and Puerto Rico, and imported mangosteen from Thailand. I have no idea if the frozen specimen is as tasty as the fresh, but if you come across one, I encourage you to give it a try.


3 Responses to “Mangosteen”

  1. samstillreading August 28, 2010 at 9:10 pm #

    I love mangosteens- you can buy them in Australia occasionally but they’re usually a) expensive and b) dried out and horrible. I’d love to even get decent frozen mangosteen here.
    JAL inflight catalogues have some great stuff!

  2. Megara September 3, 2010 at 7:56 am #

    Looks like an eggplant/damson hybrid and tastes like a lychee? I’m sold! Is the interior sectioned like a citrus fruit? Not too sure many folks on my current island would agree with your Princess Di comment, however.


  1. Strange Fruit « Straight Out of Kampung - December 8, 2010

    […] love for strange tropical fruits is well-documented on this blog. The alien ovum-looking thing above is called a “custard apple,” or buah nona (which […]

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