Forbidden Fruit

Posted By | Posted On Jul 13, 2011

It most likely was not a mangosteen that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, but it might as well have been. As with everything forbidden, this absinthe of the fruit world has developed an almost cult –like quality among foodies and “chowhounds” in this country. Once banned in the US because of fears that it might harbor the Asian fruit fly, the mangosteen has made a triumphant return, and is now available at Asian markets in the Boston area.

About the size of a tangerine, this “queen of fruits” as it is known in Thailand has a dark purple, hard rind, which hides sweet, creamy, slightly opaque white segments, ranging in number from four to eight. The flavor is hard to describe and has been compared to just about every fruit imaginable, but, in the end, it is a flavor all its own. Hints of ripe melon, juicy lychee and sweet banana, give way to pineapple and mango tones.

If the fruit is over-ripe, it is almost impossible to crack the tough outer shell. When just right however, the shell will have a bit of “give” to it when squeezed. A technique similar to opening an avocado works the best. Slice the shell with a sharp knife all the way around, and give a twist. That’s all you need to do to get at the nectar within. Counting the “petals” on the bottom of the shell will tell you exactly how many segments you will find inside.

The mangosteen is rich in Xanthones, which are reputed to possess antioxidant properties, help maintain intestinal health, strengthen the immune system, support respiration and relieve joint inflammation.

Under the mangosteen’s hypnotic spell, Rudyard Kipling wrote in 1902, “You’ll know what my riddle means/when you’ve eaten Mangosteens.”

To solve the riddle yourself, mangosteens are now currently available at C-Mart in Boston’s Chinatown.


C-Mart, 109 Lincoln Street

written by Jim Becker, Chinatown guide

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