6. Mangosteen. The prickly durian may be the “King of fruits” but the honor of “Queen of fruits” is deservedly given to the mangosteen, a simply sublime fruit whose flavor the British explorer Burbidge described as "...something like that of the finest nectarine, but with a dash of strawberry and pine-apple added."
And so yummy is this fruit that the British monarch Queen Victoria herself once famously offered 100 pounds – a huge sum at the time – to “anyone who would bring her one."
This gave the encouragement to creative horticulturalists in Old Blighty to try and grow one – more for honor than monetary reward. And thus, in 1855, the UK, with its most miserable of climes, achieved the impossible: the first ever fruiting of this fabled tropical fruit on British soil! And here I quote:
This feat was accomplished at Syon Park, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Northumberland, by their highly skilled gardener John Ivison. The greenhouse complex was heated to maintain a steady tropical temperature to offset the temperate British climate and this was managed in what were then known as stove houses.
It was stated that the tree with the flowers was about 15' high and 9' wide (a field grown tree in the tropics can produce at a much smaller size and in fewer years) but to pull this off in a greenhouse was quite an accomplishment. It was acknowledged as such by the Royal Horticultural Society at the time.
7. Snake fruit (salak). So called because of their reddish-brown scaly skin, I’ve never liked salak because they are way too dry for a fruit and taste a lot like acidic tissue paper! Yucks! Still, they look great though.
8. Jackfruit (buah nangka). Not named after some geezer called Jack but deriving from the Portuguese word jaca, these ridiculously large fruits grow on a species of tree in the mulberry family that is native to parts of South and Southeast Asia. I love the taste and texture of the fruit – both a bit chewy and sweet. Unripe jackfruit is cooked and then served in a spicy sauce with other dishes in Padang cuisine.
9. Guava (jambu). Insanely delicious fruits which I first tasted in Indonesia but which are apparently native to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America and came to SE Asia by means of ocean drifting (yeah, sure!). Defined as a superfruit - being rich in vitamins A and C with seeds that are rich in omega-3, omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and dietary fiber – eating one single guava can cure poor eyesight, help you run a marathon in less than 2 hours and keep you awake and alert for four days continuous. Or I could be exaggerating of course…
10. Passion fruit (markisa). Crack open the hard shell and you have – and here I quote – “an aromatic mass of double-walled, membranous sacs filled with orange-colored, pulpy juice and as many as 250 small, hard, dark-brown or black, pitted seeds”. Or in simple English, this means that when you eat this wonderfully tasty fruit you get loads of pips in your gob as well. And that leaves you to make a choice. Spit or swallow?