Mango, Mango, Mango! How do I love thee…? let me count the ways…. mango chutney; mango salsa; mango relish; mango jam; mango juice; mango mousse; mango sorbet; mango smoothie. Served in a salad, or on grilled salmon; with roasted Cornish hen, or pulled pork . . . got the picture? But long before I acquired a taste for mango’s fine fares, I enjoyed the fruit in the conventional way, worms and all!
Jamaica has a wide variety of mangoes and I’ve met a few during the carefree days of my youth. In Portland I was introduced to hairy stringy, number eleven, redman, and Black Hill sweetie to name a few of the “commoners.” In St. Mary, I came across Robin, turpentine, and long mango; but it was in Tony St. Andrew that my appetite was first whetted by the sophisticated East Indian and Julie.
Yet, I still recall with much fondness and some degree of nostalgia, idyllic summer days going to mango bush at Edenwood with my big brother and friends. There, we ran about unrestrained, from tree to tree, gathering mangoes that had succumbed to the pull of gravity. Other times, if were unable to climb the trees, we flung stones to dislodge ripe fruit that still nestled amongst inaccessible branches; they tumbled to the ground, sometimes bursting upon impact, splattering magnificent yellow nectar. Undeterred, we had our fill before departing mango bush, weighed down with crocus bags of mangos.
Later, as “home-sweet-home” lamps were lit, and peenie wallie bugs flashed their neon lights to signal the approaching night, the crocus bags were brought out to the verandah where family gathered. We stooped to the ground or hunched forward as teeth tore into the skin and flesh of mangoes, juice trickled down the sides of mouths or cascaded over fingers, seeds greedily sucked dry. EVERYTHING devoured! skin, flesh, and yes, WORMS too. That’s why you eat mango in the dark. ‘Cause, as mama use to say, “Wha no kill yuh fatten yuh!” Of course, at the end of summer, worm medicine awaited tyrax or Semen Contwé [si-mi-contra bush] and next mango season we got to do it all over again. All for love!
What's your favourite mango?