The Usurper Mango’s Bogus Claim to Be “King of Fruits”

The “Recipes for Health” feature in the New York Times is focusing this week on one particular tropical fruit. ” The ‘King of Fruits’ Commands Respect ,” the headline declares. Hooray! The durian is finally making inroads in America. Wait, excuse me, Martha Rose Shulman?

Why don’t Americans eat more mangoes?

I don’t know. Why don’t Americans eat more turnips? What does this have to do with the

King of Fruits

, the noble and potent-smelling durian?

Often called the “king of fruits” elsewhere in the world, the mango is not high in calories, and it is an excellent source of beta carotene, vitamin A and potassium.


Often—what? The mango? The mango is the King of Fruits like Jerry Lee Lewis is the King of Rock and Roll.


That doesn’t mean the mango isn’t a fabulous thing to eat. I’m with Chuck D on the subject of Elvis, but the title is the title. “King” isn’t a popularity contest (though Elvis won the popularity contest, too). Kings are not elected. That’s why they’re kings. Popular opinion gets you the apple, the Congressional representative of fruits. You buy them by the bagful. Everybody supports his or her chosen flavor of apple, and believes those other offensively tart / offensively sweet apples are only in the bins because of ignorance or fraud among their supporters.


The durian does not care if you like it or not. It does not care if its odor nauseates you, or if your skull gets crushed when a ripe one falls from the tree. Its presence commands the entire produce section.

What is the dainty, perfumed, inconsistent mango beside this? A prince or duke, maybe. A concubine. A eunuch, if you buy one of those blandly sour, bruise-proof ones.

Apparently India is to blame for this regal fantasy . Enough. There is only one Throne of Fruits, and it belongs to King Durian. Go down that pluralist road, and you end up with The Pineapple: The King of Fruits . The pineapple is not even the king of the can of fruit salad.

(Not even the mango camp seems to dispute that the Queen of Fruits is the sweet, thumbnail-wrecking mangosteen. Maybe there is fruit-royalty bigamy going on.)