The fruit here in Thailand is kinda a big deal. It’s fresh and plentiful and, now, my new favorite snack.
Nearly every corner has a regular fruit vendor. When I lived at the JL, I often walked down the street to see this guy…
…to buy some sliced fruit. He chopped it up and tossed it in a plastic bag. Then he would try to to toss that bag into another plastic bag, but I was a regular so he knew I didn’t want the second plastic bag (the first bag was hard enough on my conscience but I had nothing else to put the fruit in!).
Twice a day I went out for a fruit snack. I grabbed some pineapple, watermelon, cantaloup, or – my new favorite! – papaya. Each bag was 10 baht, so that’s 20 baht a day, or about 63 US cents.
This was my daily routine…But then everything changed.
The mangosteen happened.
I had never experienced this fruit before – round and purple with a cute little green stem and a name reminiscent of sweet, soft, juicy mangos… Sweet, soft, and juicy, yes, but related to mangos? No, not at all. In fact, the mangosteen has no well-known relatives. It is the lone representative of its branch of the fruit family tree.
Knowing only this much, I was already a fan. What an interesting, cartoony-looking thing, and so independent! So exotic!
And the best fruit I have ever tasted.
I bought myself half a kilo and tore into the fruit with my fingernails. The thick skin was fleshy, staining my hands purple and sticky. Inside I uncovered a bulbous, soft white flesh with compartments and a small pit.
Wikipedia says mangosteens are sweet, tangy, and juicy, but they taste so magical that mere mortal words could never do them justice. You must simply go out, find one, and eat it. It may change your life as it has mine.
I walked back to the hotel, holding my sticky hands out in front of me. If anyone was staring at the purple juice smeared on my chin, I didn’t notice; I was too distracted wondering how a fruit so perfect could exist on this planet.
I can’t get too attached – there are so many other fruits to explore! Coconut, durian, and jackfruit will get their own posts some day. I skipped some others that are endemic to this region, like the many relatives of the lychee, but there will be time, no worries. And, as Andrew Bird would say, there will be snacks.