Traveling with Forbidden Fruit

Food Lovers — By Samya Sattar on June 15, 2009 at 9:33 am

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection regrets that “it is necessary to take agricultural items from your baggage. They cannot be brought into the United States because they may carry animal and plant pests and diseases. Restricted items include meats, fruits, vegetables…”

Okay. It’s illegal to bring fruit into the U.S. from another country. Mangoes, for instance. We at NileGuide definitely do not condone flying in from India with mangoes. Even though Indian mangoes are far superior to any South American or Filippino mangoes you might have tasted in the U.S. If you happened to be in Mumbai, and you wanted to hide some mangoes in your baggage, you would select the famous Alphonso mango, which is considered by many, to be among the sweetest mangoes in the world. Take a bite of this mango, and you are transported to a world of violently beautiful thunderstorms and wild parrots. But if you visited Bengal, you would choose the Langra mango. You would cut this mango in two pieces on either side of the large pit, and scoop your spoon into the flawless, non-fibrous flesh. The taste of this perfect meat would take you back to the womb, that warm comfortable place where everything will be all right. But remember: you must not bring these mangoes back with you to the U.S. Because, well, it’s illegal.

And if you were in Thailand, you certainly wouldn’t want to bring back mangosteens. The true forbidden fruit, mangosteens were illegal in the United States until October 2007 because they could harbor an Asian fruit fly. They were finally allowed in, but only after being irradiated to kill the pests.  The mangosteen has a hard, purple skin, but once you break it open, white, fleshy pods smile back at you. Not only are these luscious fruits known to have healing properties, they taste better than chocolate, better than pancakes, better than your most delicious nap. You can buy a bagful in Thailand for mere change, but a single fruit costs a pretty penny in the States. But don’t be tempted to sneak some in your bag, because, remember, restricted items include fruits!



If you were in Bali, you might have wanted to try the Durian, an indigenous fruit which has an incredibly pungent odor. It is a seasonal fruit considered to be a delicacy. The flesh inside its prickly skin is slippery and slimy, and smells like a cross between dried fish and your compost heap. And if you actually tried to sneak this in through Customs, the adorable Customs beagle, so cutely outfitted in his “Protecting American agriculture” jacket, would definitely sniff your bag.

Mango photo courtesy of Saad.Akhtar/Creative Commons
Mangosteen photo courtesy of foodistablog/Creative Commons
Durian photo courtesy of nozhika/Creative Commons
Tags: Bali, durian, Indonesia, mango, mangosteen, Mumbai, Thailand


  • Victoria says:

    Ah! So that’s what those stinky, prickly things in the Chinatown markets are. What would you do with them to make them delicious?

  • Samya says:


    Just kidding – I’m not sure. I remember eating them when I was a kid and enjoying the slippery pods but as an adult, I haven’t been able to get past the smell. I know there is such a thing as durian ice-cream. I wonder how that tastes.

  • Graham Master Flash says:

    Oh man. I once had the unpleasant experience of eating durian and I had almost forgotten about it until this blog post gave me flashbacks. I agree on the horrible texture but I remember it tasting/smelling like onion—which was just strange for a fruit you’re eating raw. And pretty gross.
    But I only like things that taste like burgers or gatorade.

  • Nikia Kellog says:

    Well you’ll be more hydrated and will have more energy. You might also want to start jogging or biking, you’ll see a huge difference in energy levels. =)


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