Move over durian; there’s a new kid in town. Mangosteen has set up shop in my mouth, bought all the surrounding property and run everyone out of the neighborhood. Now that I’ve finally tried mangosteen, my mouth won’t settle for less. (Curious side note: my friend Y told me that durian and mangosteen are supposed to be eaten together. Durian is supposed to warm you up, while mangosteen has cooling properties. To me, that sounds like a bunch of food mumbo-jumbo, but who knows, she could be right. Some foods do have a cooling effect on me, like watermelons. But when it comes to mangosteen, I don’t care what it does to me as long as I get to keep eating it.)
I didn’t even realize anything could taste this good. It’s sweet and tangy; like a sweet tart, only pulpy and juicy, without any chalky residue and won’t tear the roof of your mouth up. Who am I kidding? It’s waaaaay better than that. OK, let’s try this: Imagine eating your favorite fruit. Your very favorite piece of fruit. Now imagine something 10x better than that and you’ll get an approximation of what eating a mangosteen is like. I would be happy to eat nothing but mangosteen and call it a day (and indeed I have).
From the outside, it’s nothing to look at, a mottled dark purple and brown, with a crown of four petite, curving leaves. Honestly, it looks like a dirty ball. Really dirty. Sometimes the surface is dotted with grotesque yellow cysts. Its shell is hard and dry, and at first I thought it would be hard to open. But the shell is more like the candy coating on a M&M. It’s not very thick and it’s fairly easy to poke through. You can literally tear a mangosteen apart with your hands (which I did because we didn’t have a knife) but it’s a discomforting feeling (besides being quite messy).
Underneath the shell is a thick and fibrous layer that is a deep fuchsia. The fibrous layer is quite juicy. When I first tore apart a mangosteen, it felt like I was digging my nails into soft flesh. The edible part of a mangosteen is a bright, pearly white and packaged in slices like a tangerine. When I saw that pearlescent globe emerge from the dripping, pulpy, dark red flesh, it was something of a shock for me. It looked like I had ripped into a mangosteen and unearthed its brains.
But oh, what delicious brains.