I alluded in my last entry to things here not being as they first appear and that doesn’t only apply to the shops. When Chi arrived one morning with these fruit I was particularly delighted because they are everywhere at the moment – every fruit barrow worth it’s salt is laden with them.
Unfortunately I had no idea what they were or even if they were sweet or savoury – the lines blur in this respect here too in Vietnam I think! Anyway I was just on the verge of buying some to experiment on when a bagful arrived with a grinning Chi one morning. “You lie dese, yes I tin so madam” she declared cheerfully and I was able to match her enthusiasm whilst still admitting to my own ignorance. She was completely taken aback that I’d never had them before and declared that in English they’re called Mangosteen.
My enthusiasm, already pretty high, ramped up a level – Mango; my (until that moment maybe?) favourite fruit; and Springsteen; my rock idol. Could things possibly get any better? Oh yes my friends – the taste. Sublime and all the other superlatives you can conjure. Now I don’t know about your household habits but in ours, and thinking about it in my childhood home too I’m pretty sure, there’s an unwritten rule which states that any fruit that needs peeling, cutting or preparing in any way can only be done so by me (or my mother when a child). I don’t remember quite where this rule came from and have always found it rather irritating – come on guys those ‘easy peel’ clementines aren’t hard for heaven sake. Anyway, the world order continues in Hanoi where some form of payback has been achieved. I know what the outside of a Dragon Fruit looks like, I can distinguish between sweet and sour mangoes and yes, I recognise (and know how to ‘unlock’) a mangosteen.
As I prepared our post-evening-meal bowl of fruit, with hubby distractedly playing word games on the computer, I remembered Michel Roux Jnr. exhorting the Masterchef contestants to: ‘Always taste your food. Never serve food you haven’t tasted.’ Who am I to argue with the great man? So I tasted the first mangosteen. Yep, it was delicious. I tasted the second mangosteen, equally gorgeous. Nine mangosteen later, realising I was down to the last fruit a dilemma seized me of epic proportions. Do I: a) eat the last one and hope hubby doesn’t notice, b) declare it unfit to eat, c) put it back in the fridge for later and peel a couple of oranges instead or d) dutifully share ‘my’ last mangosteen with my husband?
Chi: “I like these, yes I think so” (and so does Kevin!)