Tropical Fruit Installment 19: An Ode to Mango
A friend in college, who had grown up in the Phillippines, had one thing to say to me before I moved to Asia: “You know nothing about mangoes.” She went on to tell me how the one, maybe two, easily found varieties we get in the US are sub-par. Needless to say, within about a week of being in Indonesia, I realized she was completely and totally right. Not only are there hundreds of varities of mangoes, they can taste like completely different fruits. Really I could write a Dr. Seuss rhyme here…
So in my effort to get to 20 tropical fruit posts, here’s my ode to a fruit most people know, but don’t really know. When mango season arrives across Asia, there’s an excitment among the vendors. And the fruit isn’t necessarily cheap. I would sometimes pay almost $2USD for a large, perfect mango in Jakarta. Often street vendores give you a spicy salt that you can dip the fruit into.
It seems that India wins on the mango craze. The Alphonso variety is considered the creme de la creme — here’s a NYTimes story on mangoes in India. And here is a CNNGo piece about the same area where the very expensive prized variety comes from. I have yet to try it.
This giant Thai variety was going untouched in a Jakarta market because of how expensive they were:
When I was in little India in Singapore, tables were lined with neatly arranged mangoes:
I never quite mastered how to perfectly cut a mango. Instead, I was would stand over my kitchen sink and try not to stain my clothing too badly.
Now that I am back living in the US, my search for mangoes takes me to the little Saigons and Chinatowns of America. This past weekend I ventured to Eden Center in Falls Church, Virgina. A crate of 13 mangoes imported from Mexico only set me back $13. Not quite the same as Asia, but they were pretty damn close.