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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Mangosteen - The Queen of Fruits

In tropical areas where both are plentiful, the durian is known as the king of fruits and the mangosteen as the queen. And no doubt, generally speaking most people who have the good fortune of indulging in fresh, ripe mangosteen will testify that it was one of the most if not the most delicious fruit they have ever eaten. Although the story cannot be verified, it is said that when Queen Victoria heard of the ultra delicious taste of the mangosteen, she offered 100 pounds to anyone who could bring her a fresh one. I've also read that the mangosteen tree only fruits every 12 years, but I cannot verify this either. Like many tropical trees though (and mangosteens are as tropical as you can get), I do know that the trees grow very slowly.

Mangosteens have nothing at all to do with the mango, which is also sometimes called the queen of fruits. Mangosteen is a corruption of the original Malay word mangussta for the highly prized fruit.

One can say very little against the mangosteen. The meat is encased in a thick, soft purple husk that will stain clothing and skin if care is not taken to prevent it, and the segments inside look rather like a bulb of garlic. The seeds in general are quite palatable and hard seeds are not common (they are edible as well). To get to the meat is easy enough once you get the hang of it, and they are so delicious that people generally don't stop eating them until the whole bunch is gone.

The taste of mangosteen is absolute exquisite. Soft and juicy (but not watery), they have a balance of sweet, acid, and a perfume like no other fruit I have ever tasted. Sometimes compared with a peach (a habit common among people trying to describe a delicious tropical fruit to people from temperate climes), I can only say that there is nothing like a mangosteen and the worst mangosteen I've ever had far excelled the best peach! (My apologies to the noble peach.) Frozen and canned mangosteens are lousy. Sorry to say, but if you really want to try the queen of fruits, you will have to go to tropical Asia, though I do hear there cultivation is spreading to other parts of the globe.

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