Field of Science

Longing for the tropics - Mangoes

Here in the heartland of North America, mangoes remain a little known, novelty item, and truly, like many other exotic things, e.g., seafood, tropical fruits are best when consumed and enjoyed in the shade of the tree from which they were picked. Having traveled around the tropics a great deal, and having a professional interest in economically important plants, the Phactor has tried quite a long life list of tropical fruits. So speaking from considerable experience, the mango is one of the world's best fruits, succulent, juicy, and when just right, with a wonderful sweet-tart rich mango flavor. So naturally my interest was keen when "Ataulfo" mangoes showed up in a local market. It should not surprise you to encounter a variety of mango with which you are unfamiliar because, as the poster shows, there are hunderds of varieties and the only place in North America where you can get more than a handful is Fairchild Tropical Garden. Mangoes shipped to distant regions can be pretty good because they after ripen reasonably well. The flesh should just barely yield under the skin when at their prime, just like a peach, just slightly under ripe. The Ataulfos were just right, and at $6 a dozen, a bargain to boot. These were quite simply the best mango the Phactor has consumed outside of the tropics. The sweet-tart taste was superb, and this variety has a pleasantly firm, almost fiberless golden flesh, and a small flat pit. Wow! In terms of shape, size, and taste, this variety reminded me of the "Nam Doc Mai" mango of Thailand, and of course mangoes are of SE Asian origin so they have been cultivated there for thousands of years, so New World varieties all will have Asian ancestors. Unfortunately, mangoes go through their prime quickly, and an over ripe mango loses the tartness counterpoint, so 6 of my mangoes were transformed into mango sorbet. A double wow summer treat!


Pat said...

My favourites are the sucking mangoes we get at Pakistani/Indian shops here in Manchester, UK. They are ripe when shipped. Not as big as the usual varieties we see, longer than broad, bright orange skin, slightly wrinkly when ready. To eat it you massage the fruit for a while until all the flesh is pulped. Then cut off a small part of the skin at one end. Suck the pulped flesh out while palpating the fruit. Incredible flavour. Quite cheap, too.

Pat said...

Most like column one, row eleven in that poster.