These are Mangosteens, and they are superb. I tried them for the first time in Bali around 2000, and they’re still my favorite fruit.
I got this stash in Chinatown, and at the time I was fairly sure they were illegal. They were tucked way, way, way in back and it was about $40 for a small bag. I’ve since discovered that they were cleared for U.S. import in 2007 and small quantities are grown in Puerto Rico, mostly for gourmet restaurants.
They’re delicious, of course, but also so pretty. The purple outer shell is like a thin layer of carrot over a wide hunk of red pith.
You crack one open by squeezing it in your palm, and then peel back the pith inside to reveal the fruit.
I know they look a little like giant maggots, but they taste like juicy, peach-perfumed pineapple candy. The flesh is actually a lot like a very ripe peach, but with a bit more toughness to the fibers.
My niece likes them too.
While I’m in New York, Alice and I buy some exotic fruits from a gourmet grocer. We meet Sarah and Zan at my hotel bar, order a bottle of wine, and ask for a knife and some plates. The host offers to slice the fruits, to which Alice replies, “Hotels do everything for you. ‘I’ve brought you my baby, will you please circumsize him? Thank you.’”
After some light circumcision banter, we dig right in. Here are fruits two through seven:
2. Cape Gooseberries or Ground Cherries
I’ve tried these before, but they’re excellent. The texture is like a cherry tomato, only with a slightly thicker, sticky skin. Like giant salmon eggs.
They taste vibrant, like juicy orange Starbursts. Crowd favorite.
3. Horned Melon
I see these a lot at grocery stores, but I’d never tried one.
They’re small for a melon, about the size of my hand, but the inside?
Whaaaa? Did you expect a florescent green jelly interior with giant cucumber seeds? They should use these as flesh for scenes in movies when they cut into aliens and then the alien is all unexpected just beneath its humanoid skin.
Exciting! It smells fresh and very green, like unripe grapes.
The texture is amazing, but the flavor is less spectacular. It tastes like sweet cucumber, or the green fuzzy fruit that surrounds an almond shell. We all settle on “very fresh cucumber gummy bears.”
4. Sweet Galia Melon
Get a loada this melon!
The Sweet Galia Melon tasted like a more subtle, juicier honeydew. Eh. Good thing I spiced things up with the boob picture.
When I was little, my good friend and I terrified her mother by admitting we’d been gorging ourselves on these from a tree in the backyard. Her Mom had no idea whether they were poisonous at the time, but we assured her we’d been eating them for weeks. Great.
Sarah says they smell like one of those scented plastic babydolls we could get when we were kids — sort of a vanilla smell with pleasant offgassing just beneath it. You don’t eat the peel, but the edible seeds float in a translucent creamy gel. They taste a bit like kiwis with a mellow pineapple aftertaste. Mmmm.
6. Cactus Pear
This is the fruit of a cactus, which left tiny infuriating spines in my fingers.
Stupid Cactus Pear.
Look at the inside though! Gorgeous and bloody, like a beet. It smells like cut grass and cucumber.
We try it, and everyone feels deceived. Comparisons include “mealy cucumber with thick pumpkin seeds inside,” “celery with the flavor of a dry, less sweet watermelon.” Did we get a bad one? Blech.
Passionfruit has a purple exterior that’s like a thin pumpkin shell. When you open it up, it’s another holy moly:
The inside looks slightly animal, the way a fig does. It has tendrils attached to orange goo with bright green crunchy seeds that pop when you chew them.
Sarah said it smelled like the Body Shop, and the goo has the flavor of a perfectly ripe, tart mango. With the pleasant crunch of the seeds, it reminded me a lot of orange flavored Pop Rocks. So we ordered some Coke to see if our stomachs would explode.
Delicious! The end.