Summer love at Specialty Produce isn’t a feeling, but a flavor—one bite might just make you fall in love with the so-called kings of the summer season.
Our first contender hails from India, and is one of the most widely consumed fruits in the world—the mango. Over its extensive history, new varieties evolved—Alphonso, Ataulfo, Valencia Pride—and new nicknames were awarded, like the “king of fruit” and “fruit of the Gods.” From salsas to sticky rice, the mango has charmed its way into cuisines worldwide, and has long served as a symbol for love and prosperity in theology and literature alike.
Challenging the mighty mango is a controversial contender from Southeast Asia, notorious for its spiky shell and pungent smell—the durian. Its stench, compared to that of Limburger cheese or gasoline and onions, is so strong that durian has been banned from hotels and public transit in parts of its homeland, yet the pulp is like a natural crème brûlée with savory-sweet notes of vanilla, banana, caramelized onion and spices.
The dichotomy of durian is described by one Filipino legend as a love potion gone wrong. Once upon a time, there lived a cruel King who was desperate to win back his runaway Queen. He employed the help of a hermit, who magically produced a large, smooth, fragrant fruit, all for the price of a promise—the King must host the hermit as guest of honor at the feast celebrating the Queen’s return. Sure enough, it was love at first bite as the Queen tasted the custardy fruit and willingly returned to her King. Overjoyed, the King ordered a decadent feast, but tragically forgot the hermit. Scorned by the snub, the hermit cursed the once sweet-smelling fruit so that its fragrance turned foul and its smooth rind grew thorns; the fruit that once enticed the Queen now repulsed her, reminiscent of the King’s foul and sharp demeanor. To this day, the charming yet cursed durian fruit has a polarizing effect—you either love or hate this contended “king of fruits.”
But what about the queen of fruits? Download the Specialty Produce App to learn all about mangosteen, or explore more juicy stories of fruits and vegetables from around the world!