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Do I Have Mangosteen on My Face?

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…

Fruit in Thailand

…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.

Mangosteen
Purple perfection.

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.

Opening a mangosteen

Opening a mangosteen
Take note: this is the wrong way to open a mangosteen. There is a twisting method that spares you the mess and keeps the white flesh intact, I just can’t do it yet.

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.

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22 comments

    • mishvo says:

      Well yeah, they’re like the best things ever! There is a vendor outside Tesco Lotus here in Pinklao that sells em for 20 baht a kilo sometimes. What a steal!

  1. KimVo says:

    So the purplish part isn’t edible? Just the white? I’m going to get some at the Buford Hwy Farmer’s Market – they’re like, $12.50 a pound. WAY expensive. But I gotta try them now.

    • mishvo says:

      Yes you should definitely give them a try – worth the splurge! And hey, I’m actually going to seriously consider the name change. I’ve been trying to think of something new for a while now…

  2. nitinsaboo says:

    We have a fruit called Mango in India..Strange they kind of have the same name but are very different right from the colors..

    Mango- Yellow
    Mangosteen-Purple

  3. Elizabeth says:

    oh man, i love mangosteens too, they were a very good surprise but i still can’t open them right either πŸ™‚ Yum!

  4. Ruth says:

    I love mangosteens! And I had no idea that you could “peel” them – my husband slit his hand open when he was trying to cut one with a knife. Good to know!

    • mishvo says:

      Yeah, totally peel-able! They have to be ripe though – they should give a little when you squeeze them and you should be able to easily pierce the skin with your fingernail. My technique has vastly improved since publishing this post…

    • mishvo says:

      I have to try durian! I hear mixed reviews of it…but I will say it doesn’t really smell that bad when I pass it on the street. (Maybe it’s just the kind they have here?)

  5. jeisenberg2 says:

    1. Bring me back some!
    2. If I know you (and I think I do), this relationship you have developed with southeast asian fruit will never allow life in the states to bring you the taste-bud satisfaction you seek!

  6. lindsey says:

    I recently found your blog and it’s great. I live in Pattaya and also teach the dek deks pasaingrit! I agree, mangosteens are delicious! I can’t decide if I like that or the Lychees more though. Both are incredible!

    • mishvo says:

      Hi Lindsey! Mangosteens definitely outperform lychees in my book. No question about it. That’s cool you’re in Pattaya – I was there for a hot second but didn’t really walk around or anything, just relaxed at my friend’s condo. Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

  7. Pingback: Foodie Friday: The Miraculous Mangosteen | The Facetious Farang
  8. xin0blahs says:

    I love Mangosteens! It’s fairly easy to open it. You twist and pluck off the green stem πŸ™‚ then press it a little and it’d split open. πŸ™‚

    Chanced upon your blog, heh and I’m from Malaysia.

    • mishvo says:

      Hey there – thanks for the tip! I haven’t had mangosteens in a little while (not sure but maybe they’re not in season right now?) but next time I get my hands on em I will for sure try to break them open the un-messy way…

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