The mangosteen is the Holy Grail of tropical fruit to me. For years the leathery orbs native to Southeast Asia were illegal in the United States. Several years ago I took a trip to Toronto and scored two or three. As I recall never did wind up eating them. And last year, I purchased a bag, sadly one out of five were moldy. The ones that weren’t were tasty, but not worth the exorbitant price.
Earlier this week I stopped by Ou Jiang City Supermarket (40-38 Main St.) in Flushing and decided to spring for a bag of the rare fruit. My bounty cost just under $20. These better be good I thought to myself as I toted them back home to Rego Park on the Q-58 bus. When I got home I immediately sliced one open, taking care not to slice into the whitish flesh within or my hand. With a twist I popped the top off and put one of the segments in mouth. It was refreshing—tart and sweet—the tutti-frutti of fruits if you will. It was good but not transcendent, this did not stop me from eating all of them save one. Best of all none of the mangosteens were rotten, if anything some were a tad under ripe.
“To eat the mangosteen, it is necessary to eat the mangosteen grown within three or four degrees of latitude of the equator to realize at all the attractive and curious properties of this fruit,”wrote James Herbert Veitch of an 1892 to visit to Java. Yesterday I asked a more contemporary globetrotter, Andrew Zimmern, whether he’d ever eaten a good mangosteen in the States. His response: “Never. And ones others say are good pale compared to the real thing.” I am pretty sure that the ones I purchased came from Thailand. Here’s what I’d like to know: Have you ever had a good mangosteen, in the States or elsewhere? Tell me in the comments or hit me on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.