Sunday, June 10, 2007
Gorgeous isn't it? For years, according to this New York Times article, the mangosteen was banned from importation into the U.S. from Asia and Hawaii because the fruit can harbor insect pests. While they could be grown in the Caribbean, the hot, humid conditions needed to grow them make it commercially impossible. Well, Ian Crown, he of the Mangosteen.com website, has been growing them in Puerto Rico. But his crop is only small enough for delivery to specialty grocery stores. So until he or someone else makes mangosteens widely available and fresh at the local markets, I'll have to settle for buying them frozen. As it is, even finding them frozen is a big deal! Well, it is to me anyway since I can't recall ever seeing them available at all before this week. (June 10, 2008 Update: Mangosteens are now available fresh, check your local Asian grocery store to see if they have it. The going price in SoCal is around $7 a pound!) I bought a 2-lb bag of about a dozen, including many tiny-sized, mangosteens at the San Gabriel Superstore for $2.99. I bought a few bags to try them out and doled them amongst my aunts and uncles. Mangosteens have a thick outer rind that's dark purple-brown. When buying them, look for signs of any bright yellow pus, otherwise known as gamboge. The yellow pus is caused by fluctuations in rain and high humidity. While you can scrap off some of the gamboge and still eat the mangosteen, it does sometimes affect the taste of the fruit. The inside is segments of white flesh. The taste is difficult to describe, sort of a cross between a plum, loquat, and longan all rolled into one? Full of antioxidants, in the fruit and rind, mangosteens are the latest trendy fruit to add to drinks. Adam's 100% Mangosteen Juice sells a 16 oz bottle for $14.95. And the folks at Xango are marketing mangosteen juice with its purported health benefits as aggressively as pomegranate juice was marketed just a few years ago. I don't know how much I buy into all that, but I do know in Vietnam, mangosteen rinds have long been dried and then boiled into a tea for stomach ailments. Mangosteens were one of the first fruits I tried when I went back to Vietnam for the first time in 1994, so they hold a special place in my heart for mainly nostalgic reasons. That and because they're so darned difficult to find in the U.S. I was so excited when I first saw them that I immediately called up the friend I just ate lunch with and asked if he wanted some too. He said he had no idea what they were and wouldn't know how to eat them anyway. I said his mama would know. And sure enough, his mama said she loved them and asked where I bought it. As far as frozen fruits go, these mangosteens are pretty darn tasty. The other night after dinner, for dessert, my friend opted to go back to my place where we finished off the handful of mangosteens I had left, along with some fresh lychees. The next day I called my mom to ask if they were available in Oregon. She said they were. But when I told her how much (or rather how little) I spent on them, she told me to go back and buy more. So I did. So there you go, two mamas who are wild about mangosteens and actually think this is a good deal. Check your local Asian grocery stores, or if you live near the San Gabriel Superstore, hurry and grab some before they're gone! And while you're there, you can get freshly steamed shrimp cheong fun noodles at Yum Cha Cafe. San Gabriel Superstore 1635 San Gabriel Blvd. San Gabriel, CA 91776 626-280-9998
All Text and Photos Copyright © 2006-2013 by Wandering Chopsticks.