Photo of our helper E’s birthday cake because actual mangoes referred to in post were gobbled up too fast.
I have found it in me to talk about mangoes, so I must be feeling better (touch wood).
So, ever since I moved to Hong Kong, I gave up on mangoes. The mangoes you get here are the South East Asian variety that just do not cut it for me. They’re like eating those pastries you get in Japanese-style bakeries (which are pretty much all bakeries on Hong Kong) which only leave you aching for a real dessert. Of course, this is a matter of taste, and there are people who love the above-mentioned mangoes/pastries, and good for those people because those things are easily available but the kind of mangoes I desire are not.
Then, one day this guy we know made an arrangement with a girl who was into him who offered to split a box of mangoes with him. That was the extent of their hooking up (they shared the cost of a box of mangoes, which she procured), and we all shared the fruits (literally) of it. By god, they were gorgeous, and opened up the possibility that one might actually get hold of Alphonso mangoes in Hong Kong.
Apparently, you can buy them by the box at Chungking Mansion, but I have aversion to buying by the box, because I think I was brainwashed by my mother into thinking that fresh produce should be individually evaluated and handpicked (not that I have any expertise in this regard.) Anyway, Alphonsos are not my favourite type of mango, although I’m a Goan and they should be.
My favourite mangoes are the ones I knew of as Benishan, which apparently almost everyone else calls Banganpalli and hence no one knew what I was talking about when I mentioned them. The one fine day MinCat posted something on Facebook about Banganpallis and I had a sneaking suspicion and I googled them and lo and behold, they were the ones I’d been calling Benishan to blank stares all my life. Apparently, it’s a Deccani thing. Heh.
Anyway I had this sudden burst of longing for mangoes, and since V happened to be going to Bangalore I demanded he get some. Turns out V’s dad actually grows mangoes on his farm on the outskirts of Bangalore. So then I muttered about how those wouldn’t be the right ones and I must have Banganpalli. Turns out he grows those too…hell, he grows some five kinds of varieties. And he doesn’t use any chemicals, including the artificial ripening which is apparently the bane of Indian mango-eaters, so his mangoes are effectively ‘organic’ I guess though he would never have heard of the term.
They are very popular with the neighbours though, who flock to their house to buy them, but obviously we got the pick of the lot. And they were stunning. They are probably the best mangoes I’ve eaten in a long time, and I don’t say this out of deprivation. The only flaw were that in our greed we put some in the fridge that were not fully ripe so a couple that were not ideal level of sweetness.
Maybe it’s coming of age or something, but I’ve switched loyalties to Alphonsos. Does this mean I’m a proper Goan aunty now? I certainly have the hips to match, and the mangoes contributed to that.
I realised that the way you cut and eat a mango can add or diminish satisfaction. V insists on doing these criss-cross lines in the cheeks of the mango and then chopping off the resulting cubes so they’re easy to pick up with a fork. But I ideally want to just cut each cheek in half and go at it slobbering. Admittedly, the first way is more feasible with the kids, but the second is so much more satisfying because you can scrape every last bit of mango off with your teeth. Also, for the seed, i cut as much of the flesh around the seed off (so you get two fleshy strips with skin attached which you can then eat like mini cheaks) but most people just strip off the skin and suck the seed.
Benji is a total mango fiend. He was lusting after mangoes before he had even seen one because of this book. Then we got our helper E a mango cake for her birthday and he lapped it up. Benji is such a fan of mangoes that any will do, even some species from Kerala that I really did not enjoy, but that were so close to the South East Asian ones that my helpers loved those. The FIl sent four varieties.
Unfortunately, my tummy collapsed before the last precious two could be eaten and Benji finished them off. Hmph.