BY MONICA DIX . FLORIDA . USA
Many fruits excite me, but the one I chose for this post really has me thinking about the ‘world’ in World Slices.
Mom tells me I ate mangoes as a little girl in Puerto Rico, and liked them, but I don’t remember clearly. But some deep taste memory set fruit, because I was the kid in Baltimore, Maryland in the 80s who wanted a mango in my school lunch instead of an apple or banana. Later, in Ohio, Mom would buy them in Kroger, or they’d appear in our cousins’ kitchens (straight from Puerto Rico?). In Florida, where mangoes have their own season, I can recognize the tree in backyards by its leaves. I don’t know why most store-bought mangoes seem to be from Mexico. It’s a short boat ride away, I guess.
In college, I had an Egyptian friend who revealed the secret of markets of his homeland: you could choose from all kinds of mangoes, each with its special uses and qualities. I took the bus to the Vietnamese food shop in Pittsburgh’s Strip District when I heard from my aunt that the mangoes were in, and bought boxes of the now-ubiquitous Tommy Atkins mangoes. They filled my tiny studio with their fleshy perfume.
Years later, at a gardeners’ class in Florida, ‘The Mango Man’ told us that there were over 10,000 known cultivars of mangoes in the world, and more were still being bred and discovered. And that about 3,000 types were known to be growing in Florida right now. So many mangoes.
(While I sketch plans for a mango forest from my apartment balcony, I’m content to slurp this chilled ripe ‘champagne’ mango from Mexico.)