Monday, January 25, 2010

It Wasn't Love at First Sight

Okay, I thought the title might get you...but this post isn't about  romance or love at all, at least not about any hearthrob of mine.  It is about love, though - an undying, painful, terribly unsatisfying longing I have for an elusive litte fruit which I have eaten only twice in my sixty-five years!  Most of you, I would imagine, have never even tasted it unless you live in or have visited southeast Asia, India, or, perhaps, Puerto Rico or parts of the Caribbean or South America where, I understand, it is now being grown.  I am talking about the mangosteen - no relation, in any way, shape, form or taste, to the mango - or Garcinia mangostana L, an exotic fruit, known as the "queen of fruits."


picture from mangosteen.com

I met my first mangosteen at the Royal Orchid Sheraton in Bangkok, Thailand in February of 1997 ( the date is as important to me as my first kiss ).  I was there overnight, as the guest of Royal Caribbean, prior to setting sail on a twelve day cruise that was to take me to  exotic ports in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, ending up in Singapore.   We were hosted to a buffet luncheon prior to boarding buses for a city tour of Bangkok and the long drive to the port. 

I found myself in front of a huge fruit table and enjoyed slices of pineapple and mango, sections of pommelo ( which I had never eaten before ) and paused before a small purplish fruit.  I asked the server what it was and she said, "Oh, it is the queen of fruits, you must try it...it is the mangosteen but is should be called the mangoqueen."  As usual, willing to try anything, I added it to my plate.   I didn't think it looked that exciting, frankly!

When I got back to my table, one of the waiters smiled his approval and came over, took a knife, and cut my mangosteen in half, presenting it to me like a trophy, indicating I should take one of the white segments.  I put it in my mouth, chewed and swallowed.  Oh, my heavens, what was this taste?  Sheer ecstasy, sweet and sour, peach, lychee, strawberry - a myriad of wonderful fruits all rolled up into one.  I finished it in seconds while the others at the table watched.  In spite of my encouragement, not one person went to get one, even when I offered to bring them back as I went for more.  By the time we were leaving for the bus I had finished another three.  Much to my delight, the very sweet Thai waiter handed me a bag as I left the dining room - inside, a half dozen more mangosteens. 


picture from www.mangosteen.com

Throughout the rest of that southeast Asian cruise, I kept on the lookout, in all the markets I visited, but never encountered the mangosteen again.  Often, at my neighborhood grocery, Manila Market, here in Daly City, CA, I find exotic fruits such as lychee, jackfruit, longan and, even durian, that has been shipped frozen, but, thus far, no mangosteen has arrived.  After investigating, I learned that the United States had banned importing of the fresh fruit because of concern that they might be infested with the  Asian fruit fly which could damage U. S. fruit crops.  Only since 2007, have they allowed the importation of fresh, irradiated fruit from Thailand.  Otherwise, canned products may be imporated but reports are that this does not compare with the taste of the fresh fruit.

In 2008, on my birthday trip to Europe, much to my delight, when we were strolling through Barcelona's wonderful market, La Boquerria, on La Rambla, there, in the fruit section, I saw my beloved mangosteens!  Though a bit expensive, I immediately bought several which I shared with my friends who agreed that, indeed, these were the queen, if not, the king of fruits!



Mangosteens have long been used in Ayurvedic medicine and by native healers.  The rind of the fruit contains a number of complex chemicals, including tannic acid and xanthones.  At one time, when dysentery was very common, it was used to treat this.  Now, China and India used the dried fruits, shipped from Singapore, to make a number of medicines which are used to treat diarrhea, cystitis and to regulate menstruation.  There are claims, as well, that it helps support microbiological balance, helps the immune system, improves joint flexibility, and provides mental support.  Of course, none of this is really proven.

There are numerous websites and links to which you may refer for more information.  In terms of those who often, in desperation, try anything in hopes of seeking cancer cures, please go to: 
American Cancer Society - Mangosteen JuiceThat site also has some excellent sources of other articles on supplements.

After writing this today, I was so much wanting a mangosteen, I actually found a place in southern California that imports exotic fruits and, although, it is very expensive, they have fresh mangosteen from Thailand that are sent out express mail the day they arrive.  I just ordered six for my family.  Perhaps I will keep three for myself and give each of my boys one!  After all, they are still young and, in their lifetimes, maybe mangosteens will be much more accesible. 

If you are interested, check out:  http://buymangosteenfruit.com/.

19 comments:

  1. Wow! Never heard of it, but since I love most fruits, now I want to try one some day. The color is very interesting. It looks like a citrus coconut.

    ReplyDelete
  2. About 15 years ago, while working in a supermarket in Germany, we were able to taste it - agree with you that it is indeed a magic taste.
    Will try to see how Athens is coming up, with providing it. Maybe a wonderful new theme to do, thank you for that idea.
    Please have you all a wonderful Tuesday.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mangosteens something new.....i haven't even heard about it ....first time i saw the pictures....i have eaten the other u mentioned such as luchee or leachi...as we say it here... :)

    thanks for sharing....i'll be looking out for this one... :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. This was fascinating to read Carmen. Now I will be on the look out for a fresh mangosteen in NYC markets so that I can try one.

    I read a Malaysian blog "La Vie Est Belle" and she often decribes their wonderful exotic fruits --I will have to ask her if she has tried this fruit.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I miss this too big time i grew up in our province in the Philippines and this little fruit is just within my grandmother's backyard. we used to climb this tree when I was a kid and even i am grown up already and eat this fruit while we are enjoying it, we sit in its branches while we are chatting with friends, neighbors and cousins..this is sooooooo awesome....

    ReplyDelete
  6. one of my favourite fruits! my husband and i can never get enough of these. we often eat our way through 2 kilos of these ... in one sitting!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. sharkbytes - this is one fruit you cannot help but love. I can't wait till mine arrives from southern CA!

    ReplyDelete
  8. ρομπερτ - so you've actually tasted mangosteen! If it's made it to Spain, it certainly could get to Greece, I suppose!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hitesh - I've had lychees, too...I like them and lychee liquor makes exotic cocktails. The best fresh lychees I've had, though, were flown from growers in Florida!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti - I would bet that mangosteens grow in Malaysia - since they grow in Singapore and that is very close. Since they are imported to southern CA from Thailand, NY must get them, too.

    ReplyDelete
  11. zuveena - I'm glad this blog brought back memories of home! I know I always love to visit my friends in Hawaii and go out in their yard and pick fresh papayas. Somehow, fruit just tastes better, right on the spot!! In Hawaii, also, there are such huge mango trees! I am sure it must be the same in the Philippines.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Kamana - you are so lucky to live in an area where mangosteens thrive. I am just so anxious for the mailman to deliver mine - at $10 for one, you can be sure I won't indulge in that luxury often but I will certainly savor each little piece of these!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I always enjoy your photos of Barcelona :). Greetings!

    ReplyDelete
  14. You are talking about something that is my favourite. I always enjoy eating Mangosteen, and it has a cooling effect to our body if we take too much fried items.

    ReplyDelete
  15. fullet - that market is my favorite in the whole world...see, it has everything, even mangosteens. My friends who own Manivanh Thai Restaurant ( they are actually from Laos ) spent four days in Barcelona in November prior to their cruise. I told them about La Boquerria - they were there with their extended families
    ( parents, children, grandchildren - 15 people in all - every day, Nang went shopping at La Boquerria, buying fruits of her homeland; I think she told me she spent about 300 euros in four days! )

    ReplyDelete
  16. rainfield 61 - I can't wait for my order to arrive from the exotic fruit company in southern CA...I probably won't order again so I will really savor each and every tasty bite!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I don't know how I've missed this post Carmen, sorry about that!

    Mangosteen are delicious..

    ReplyDelete
  18. Very interesting. I never knew what they looked like before.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh my goodness! You don't get those where you are??? We have mangosteens all over,over here!

    They're my fav'rit!!!!! I used to have my driver take me down to the fruit stands lining the streets, just to buy bunches of them!!!!!! I love them completely!!!!! I love the marriage of the sweet and sour!!!!!! :D

    And they are so interesting to open! But did you know that they can stain your clothing and other fabrics? If you open the "casing" of the fruit-- the purple stuff can stain all sorts of fabric!

    I love this fruit!

    ReplyDelete