Not Martha

My Vacation Slides: Paris, the bit about the mangosteens

buying mangosteens at La Grand Epicerie

While we were in La Grand Epicerie we came across some mangosteens. I’d heard of these before but was most intrigued by Maggie Mason’s report about finding a stash in Chinatown. They had been illegal to import into the US for a long time, and at the time I bought these I thought they still were, but Maggie updated her entry to say: “they were cleared for U.S. import in 2007 and small quantities are grown in Puerto Rico, mostly for gourmet restaurants.” You know what? Thinking they were sneaky commodities in the US made buying them in Paris thrilling. I’m glad I got to taste them as forbidden fruit. We took them to us when we went to go visit our friends Laura and Andy in Nottingham.

mangosteens, exteriors

mangosteen cut in half, fat white fruit in cloves

mangosteen cloves separated, they have veins and look like a small bodily organ of some sort

They look strangely organic inside, and it was hard to get Scott, let alone Laura and Andy, whom are vegetarians, to try it. But once they did we all agreed, delicious. If a little difficult to get the fruit off of the seeds present in the larger sections.

That said, here I thought I was being all fancy buying rare fruit at an upscale grocery store. A few days we found them much closer to our apartment in Paris. How close? We could actually see them from our living room window. Here, let me zoom in on them for you:

the view of the intersection from our apartment

the fruit stand just across the street

aaand the basket of mangosteens at said fruit stand, right across the street

Previously: Day One arrival and beating jet lag; Day Two big impressive monuments, unexpected meetings, needing to pee; Day Three The Metro, a museum, and French onion soup; Day Four dogs in paintings, startlingly large arches and towers; Day Five pastries and scoldings.

Next up: Day Six trains and vegetables

· comments [23] · 03-10-2010 · categories:travel ·

23 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Daryn // Mar 10, 2010 at 9:04 am

    For what it’s worth, though they sometimes have mangosteen at Uwajimaya, they are super overpriced and usually pretty disappointing, so be glad you tried them in Paris!

  • 2 Seanna Lea // Mar 10, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Did the flavor of the mangosteens remind you of any other fruit (for those of us who have never tried one) or was it pretty unique?

  • 3 megan // Mar 10, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Daryn – Thanks, I’ll keep an eye out but I probably won’t be inspired to buy them at high prices.

    Seanna Lea – They tasted like delicate, sweet pineapple. Tart but not acidic, sweet but not cloying. Really interesting and pleasant. They were so small it was hard to get a full mouthful, the larger cloves on them were mostly a hard seed that the fruit was really difficult to extract from.

  • 4 Susan // Mar 10, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Aren’t the little fruit & vegetable stands amazing? We bought some of the little french cantaloupes from one & he asked ‘are you eating them today or tomorrow?’ and picked out the perfect ones for us.

  • 5 jo-anne // Mar 10, 2010 at 11:42 am

    The “magosteen zoom” is perfect! I’m thrilled that there will be marvelous little produce stands – it will help cut back on eating out for every meal – though that would be lovely!

  • 6 Emily // Mar 10, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Um, did a Mr. Collignon run that stand? Looks EXACTLY like the corner market in Amelie.

    I’ve been loving your Paris posts! Such lovely photos and stories. Thanks Megan.

  • 7 katy // Mar 10, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I’ve seen mangosteens at one of the grocery stores here in Lux City ( Auchan – a French owned grocery chain) They have a tropical fruit and veg section that contains many items I’ve never seen before along with others that are very common at grocery stores in Seattle – limes, chilies, ginger. I’m going to scope out the mangosteens when I do my shopping next week. I’m guessing they will be pretty expensive.

  • 8 Ruth Ann // Mar 10, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    I had mangosteens in India a couple of summers ago. They were amazing. Almost like eating one of those big, chewy sweet tart things, only so much better.
    I’ve never seen them in the stores around here (DFW) but I may have to look a little harder next time I’m at the snooty grocery stores.

  • 9 herschel // Mar 10, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    hahahaha — i do this all the time. i once carried back some precious, precious jars and bottles from london … only to find the same things for sale at world market.

  • 10 Heidi // Mar 10, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Those are SO WEIRD LOOKING!

  • 11 Rachel // Mar 10, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I purchased a single mangosteen at Uwajimaya some time ago. Daryn’s right, they were outrageously expensive. But, in the spirit of trying something new (also inspired by Maggie) I got it. Shared it with my b/f who promptly dropped a piece of it… I was all, seriously, that was about $3.00 you dropped!

  • 12 Alex // Mar 10, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I love mangosteens. Growing up in Canada (which appears to ban far less tasty produce) these are pretty abundant anywhere there’s anything remotely ethnic. Queen Victoria sent out expeditions for these :) They’re considered the Queen of fruit and have cooling properties, unlike the King of fruits (durian, which is rumoured to make people explode if eaten incorrectly)

  • 13 Susan O. // Mar 10, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    When I was in Vancouver a while back, we ate them nearly daily! It was a lovely treat. Glad you were able to try them!

  • 14 megan // Mar 10, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Emily – No, it was a youngish guy, but I enjoyed watching him take great care at picking out the produce which a van delivered each morning. Also, there were no barrels of dried beans, I double checked.

    Herschel – I did that too! We brought back English Nutella to compare to the US version, and from the label it appears to be precisely the same.

    Alex – How lovely to know!

  • 15 ana // Mar 11, 2010 at 9:31 am

    My aunt worked for Thai Airways in the 70s and brought some back from a trip once. I still remember how wonderful they tasted – perhaps you have to go to Asia for the best flavour.
    You can buy mangosteens in ethnic shops (and sometimes in supermarkets) in the UK but they never taste of much.
    Why are they banned in the States?

  • 16 Lynn in Tucson // Mar 11, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    I’ve only tasted mangosteen dried, from Trader Joe’s. They’re quite yummy!

  • 17 sioux // Mar 12, 2010 at 10:18 am

    i’m not a big fruit person, so i zeroed in more on your camera’s zoom – very impressive!
    also, thanks for this travelogue. i have wanted to go back to paris for a while (was there for a few days a looonng time ago). not sure when that’s going to happen, so i’m enjoying this little vicarious vacation with you. thanks!

  • 18 LaCheshireChat // Mar 13, 2010 at 3:37 am

    OK, for me? On the zoom shot, the very first thing I thought was, “Whoa, they were 2.15€ a kg cheaper just across from you… ”
    They taste, to me, like a delicate pineapple-flavoured lychee. The texture is interesting, and so very perfumed. Lovely. Now I want some…

    And I am just loving all these images of Paris! Almost makes me want to go jump on the train for Montparnasse!

  • 19 Erica // Mar 16, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    These are the yummiest fruit ever when they are fresh. The best place in Paris to buy them (well I should say the most reasonable) is in the Asian neighborhoods. I go to Belleville and then to one of the Asian supermarkets there. They have them at much more reasonable prices. Make sure they are not very very hard as that means they are no longer good. Also, I have found that often they have yellow marks on the outside. This appears to be when they have been frozen and defrosted which is not ideal as they do not taste as good any more and often are too smushy. In any case, be careful when opening as the pink stains. But they are just so wonderful if you have not tried…. do!

  • 20 katie // Mar 25, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    How do you eat mangosteens?? They look amazing and I’m for sure going to get some when I go to the grocery store next time! Although…I do wish I was buying it from a quaint little Paris shop. I miss Paris. Sigh. I would live there…

  • 21 whiskeypony // Mar 25, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    wait – i’m confused. do you eat the white fleshy part? is that the aril, like in pomegranates? or do you eat the maroonish cup-shaped part?

    if you don’t eat the maroonish-cup part, can you make something out of it? it looks kinda woody. how awesome would a mangosteen salt cellar be?!

  • 22 Julie // Mar 26, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Love seeing pictures of mangosteens! I work for a cosmetics manufacturer, and we use mangosteen in all kinds of products, but I never even thought about what they look like! Thanks!

    Also, that fruit stand looks like the one from the movie Amelie! I can’t say for sure, because I haven’t seen the movie in a while, but that might be a famous store!

  • 23 vern // Mar 30, 2010 at 6:14 am

    as far as i’m concerned it’s a tropical fruit and i’m from malaysia…it’s a pretty common fruit here although seasonal.

    the pulp is very juicy, sweet with a tad of tangerine flavor. the unripe ones r pretty sour but they r still nice! it has it’s own unique flavor n difficult to describe in words. in short they’re lovely!

    you can easily press the shell n it’ll break open. just suck the pulp straight from the fruit or simply dig them out with a spoon. they can be pretty messy and once you stain ur clothing with the purple sap, it may be a chore to get them out

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