Even though I got some great presents this year under the tree, like sheepskin slippers, a cute designer bag and buttery soft leather gloves, I found the best gift of all in the most unlikely of places–the local Persian supermarket:
Behold the legendary mangosteen! I literally gasped when I saw them in the produce section–not only because they taste amazing, but also because they’ve been illegal to import into the United States until recently, since they may carry Asian fruit flies that can damage crops. Also known as the “queen of fruits,” the mangosteen hails from Southeast Asia and contains a milky-white, sweet creamy pulp that makes me go weak in the knees.
I first tasted this little piece of heaven in Singapore when I was 10 and have been dreaming of it ever since. Although it’s much easier to buy canned mangosteen or one of those nasty-looking health drinks derived from the mangosteen’s rind (thought to be loaded with antioxidants, anti-cancer properties and other anti-somethings that are probably good for you), nothing beats the fresh version. Once you crack the shell–really fresh ones should have a squishy exterior you can easily pull apart–you pick out the white segments one by one and savor each piece.
What does it taste like, you ask? Well, it’s hard to describe–kind of a cross between a ripe peach, a lychee, vanilla ice cream, and some kind of exotic flower, if that’s possible. Some people even say it’s got hints of strawberry, but I think its taste escapes definition, really. Forbidden fruit-y, maybe? All I know is that it’s delicious enough to make me think that $9 a pound during a recession is a pretty reasonable price.
Now that mangosteens are legit, I know what I’m going to ask Santa for next year. And it ain’t gonna be another pair of sheepskin slippers.