Monday, March 26, 2007

missing mangosteens

I've been back from Hong Kong for over a week yet I still crave the food I had there. It was really neat to taste things that I can't get here in the States. Some things, like certain fruits, are not allowed to be imported (because of the fruit flies) such as wax apples(left) and mangosteens.

Mangosteens are these interesting fruits with a deep, dark purple (almost black) peel. The peel is hard and thick and when you hold a mangosteen in your hand it feels like a you are holding a stone.

But underneath the thick skin-- almost in direct contrast-- is the whitest, softest fruit. It is the sweetest fruit I've ever tasted, with just a hint of tartness.

This fruit is in sections, like an orange. But there's a trick to the mangosteen. If you flip it over, you'll see a flower shaped pattern on the bottom. As many "petals" are on the flower is how many sections of fruit is in the mangosteen. And they're all delicious.

The other fruit that I've eaten before but never really seen, and especially not in abundance was the dragonfruit. This fruit is also a lesson in contrasts, as the outside is brilliant fuchsia and green, while the inside is white with black specks.

The dragonfruit has a subtle sweetness and the texture of watermelon. I love its appearance. I really want to illustrate a book about why the dragonfruit is called a dragonfruit. I haven't found too much about that, maybe I'll just make a story up!

I also miss the pomelo soup! I had the most amazing bowl of this dessert soup, made from pomelo,mango and coconut milk when I was at dim sum at a restaurant called Metropol(I'm not sure about the spelling). It was my first taste of it and it was so fresh and light and yummy! I'm told that this soup is what the Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin, has in her vase. She's very popular.

Other hard-to-find delicacies include Sesame Ice cream:

And long-life peach cakes. But I confess, I did not actually try a peach cake. I was too full from eating everything else.


Amy said...

Hi Grace! Wish I could send you some mangosteens and wax apples! I actually saw a dragon fruit the other day from Malaysia that was fushia on the inside. I'll have to take a photo for you (and your future dragon fruit book!) Hugs to you from Honkers!

Grace Lin said...

Hi Amy! Ahh, if I could just have some wax apples...I almost regret not trying to smuggle them in, but they probably would've upset the ecosystem and caused some sort of wax apple flu throughout the land, so probably for the best.

I might need your recipe for chicken salad though!

gloria estefan said...

Grace, you need to make a book about this!


Libby Koponen said...

I agree. You write about it so well....and think of how everyone who ever read FARMER BOY remembers the food.

I'm sure there are other children's books that describe food -- THE LION THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE comes to mind--but this is the only book that I've heard many, many people mention with nostalgia for meals they never ate except in their imaginations.

You could write about it and paint it and maybe teach us how to cook some of the things, too!

alvina said...

I LOVE WAX APPLES!!! And I miss them dearly. My parents actually have a wax apple tree in their back yard, but it only bears fruit for two weeks out of the year or so in the summer, and I'm so rarely back in CA then. But if they know I'm coming at some point in the summer, my father will cover the fruit in plastic bags to keep them from ripening too quickly. Or something like's all a mystery to me.

This post made me hungry, and also made me miss Asia!