The fragrant, edible flesh of the mangosteen can be described as sweet, tangy, citrusy and peachy. Naturally grown in tropical Southeast Asia, it has been so prized that Queen Victoria is said to have offered a reward of 100 pounds to anyone who could bring her a fresh one. The sweet meat of this fruit is, perhaps appropriate to the legend, well protected by its hard shell, which typically must be split with a knife and cracked open before it can be enjoyed. They were imported and put on sale recently in New York City for the hefty price of $45 a pound.
Fan R.W. Apple Jr. writes in the New York Times that he would rather have a mangosteen than a hot fudge sundae. He quotes British-born Malaysian author Desmond Tate who wrote: ''By popular acclaim, the mangosteen is held to be the most delectable of all the tropical fruits, and it has been proclaimed their queen. There is no doubt about the luxury of its taste. It has won unstinted praise down the ages from all who have encountered it.''