June 4th, 2012
Tonight I ate a giant Alphonso mango for dinner and then a small one for dessert. ‘Tis finally the season: India is up to her gold-studded ears in mangoes. And good thing too, as all I’ve been eating for my fruit fix is jackfruit, and everyone knows it’s not good to eat too much jackfruit. Apparently, it’s bad for your digestion. My astrologer calls it “slow poison.” And there are so many different varieties of mango! Football-shaped green ones, giant yellow ones, sweet tiny ones with a rosy blush that taste like apricots. Carts on the roadside corners laden with bananas, guavas, and oranges now have only piles of the red and green fruit. Mangoes are the sweet reward for surviving through an Indian summer. No one can resist. Oh dear reader, I wish I could send you some in the mail. (Which reminds me, thanks to everyone who has sent me letters and packages to me over the past year. It makes home feel that much closer and the world seem that much smaller when you get a message that has physically traveled half the globe. Don’t even get me started, I can nerd out for days on how much I love the postal service…)
Some states in India have official mango festivals. I am envisioning an ocean of people with lots of mango vendors and some type of trumpeted ceremonial parade with pujas, processions and candles and the smashing of limes on the concrete and maybe an elephant just for good measure. Indians love processions. And pujas.
On the farm we have a lovely large variety that is slowly ripening on the low-hanging boughs. The sign of a good pruning job is if the tree is perfectly shaped like a half globe, the fruits hanging low, with good thick branches in the center to climb and reach the high ones. After two months of eating raw mango in chutneys and green papaya salad we will finally be able to start plucking the green globes and letting them fully ripen on the cool concrete floor of the fruit room.
Seasonal crops serve as delicious ticks in the calendar year. Even if you can’t eat an Indian mango, you can still take a moment to appreciate some of the unique bounty that grows in your region. Find some of your best local seasonal fruit and eat it with your eyes closed. I always knew summer had begun when our fridge would get stocked with bags of black plums, bing cherries, white peaches and those huge nectarines from Costco. Become conscious of the sunlight and the soil that live in every cell of the fruit’s sweetness. Take a minute to stop and enjoy. It’s only once a year!