The Best and the Worst Fruit in the World

The mangosteen, succulent luminescent segments inside the dull hard padded
The mangosteen, succulent luminescent segments inside the padded exterior.

In preparation for my goal in Colombia to try 100 kinds of fruit that I’ve never tasted before, I was thinking back to the best and worst fruit I’ve had so far. Surprisingly, it is not durian.

So far, the best fruit I’ve tried is the mangosteen. The mangosteen, which is commonly found in Southeast Asia, has an aubergine brownish color and carapace-like leaves on the top. Inside, the pulpy exterior is red and bleeds like the blood of berries. The edible parts are the white segments inside. A few of these segments have a large soft pit inside. The other segments have no pit so they glide down like manna. Having looked coast to coast for this fruit in the U.S., I had just about given up eating it here. But, then I went to a local “Little Vietnam” or Eden Center, in Falls Church, Virginia, and there, sitting on the sidewalk, was a lady selling mangosteens. At $16, the price for a bag for these well-traveled, dessicated, and bruised fruit was exorbitant.

The worst I’ve tried so far is the wood apple. The wood apple, which I tried in Sri Lanka, is brown, pulpy, and fibrous with the flavor of tree stump.

When I told one of my friend about my new challenge, it turned out that he had actually written a book on fruit. With the weary look of a man who has chewed his way through hundreds of bushels of fruit, he said to me, “Get a juicer. You will get tired of all that chewing.”

In Colombia, they have 150 official commercial types of fruit so my goal of 100 shouldn’t be too hard. Some of the names of the fruit I may find dance like sugar plum fairies in my head: curubas, badeas, caimones, chontaduros, guamas, mamuncillos, mairoños, grocellas, piñuelos, zapotes, and nísperos…