Sunday, January 31, 2010
A fruit I never knew existed
Growing up in the Bay Area where the farmers' markets and life in general is densely packed with new experiences, I was under the impression that I had tried nearly everything, be it pharmaceuticals, ethnic foods or fruit.
So imagine my surprise when a young man, just out of school, turned to me and said "Have you tried one of these before?" and handed me a fruit I had never seen.
The purple mangosteen is, in my estimation, awesome. I love fruit but I hate the hassle. When I'm traveling the chances that I'm going to carry around a knife to cut open a pineapple are slim. Even peeling an orange seems like unnecessary work. I went traveling to avoid work. But then fruits that don't need to be peeled come with their own issues--apples and pears always seem dirty. I'm supposed to take it back to my hotel and wash it? Meh.
But a mangosteen--how perfect, how wonderful! You put two thumbs in and crack the thing in half. Inside, you can suck the flesh or just grab the meat, which pops right out. It's sort of citrusy but not sour, sort of peachy but not too sweet. It's related to the lychee and the pomegranate and apparently can only grow in ultra-tropical locations, making them a rare find in North America.
The best part is the women who cruise by with hundreds of them on the backs of their motorcycles, or in enormous baskets balanced on their shoulders. A few minutes of good natured arguments later, and one can get 4-8 for one or two dollars. Less if you're good at bargaining.
So. This is what I quit my job to travel for. Delicious and previously unknown fruits with adorable names.