I never thought that mango eating was such a trial. I heard on the radio, and subsequently found on the net, that a new mango variety has been launched in the Northern Territory, near Darwin. It’s supposed to be easier to eat, with a smaller seed and, get this, milder in flavour.
Apparently first-time mango eaters are deterred by the strong mango taste so they hope to capture new markets by having a bland mango variety. When I used to live in Malaysia, my aunts, uncles and extended family prized the intensely aromatic Philippine mango. They held it in the highest esteem because of the wonderful almost incense-like intense fragrance that it had. My green-thumbed grandfather had managed to coax a mango tree of the Philipine variety and I remember being taken out in the evening, when the smell was most intense, by my uncle to savour the thick aroma exuding from the one tiny mango. Unfortunately we were waiting for this mango to increase to decent eating proportions but, just like Peter Pan, it didn’t want to grow up and was attacked by my grandmother’s chickens before we could rescue it.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve eaten a Philippine mango but my friend K, who recently spent 6 months in the archipelago, assures me that they are still as beautifully fragrant and delicious as I remember them.
Why would anyone choose to eat a bland mango? “Oooh, this mango’s too strong, I feel all funny – might need a lie down.” If you’re so scared of it, why not just eat a peach?
This new variety is also supposed to be easier to eat: less messy and fleshier. But I have never had a problem eating mangoes tidily. Yes, I admit that preparation is vital, and you can’t eat a mango like you would an apple; but if the cheeks are scored then inverted, little cubes of mango flesh practically jump out at you. All that’s needed is a teaspoon to enjoy. The seed is another matter, but the good host will shave the flesh off the seed into a little pile for his guests, or himself, to enjoy.