Saturday, 10 April 2010

Underneath the Mango Tree

Underneath the mango tree,
Me honey and me,
can watch for the moon.

Underneath the mango tree,

Me honey and me,
make boolooloop soon.

(from Dr No)

Mangoes are yet another gift from India to the world, not least to Brazil, which produced 1.5 million tons of the fruit in 2007. In fact the word "mango" comes from the Malayam word "manna" via the Portuguese "manga", the Portuguese yet again spreading plants through their empire. By 1768 Captain Cook was reporting that they were grown in great abundance around Rio.

The mango tree itself is tall (up to 130ft) and stately, and long lived, up to 300 years. Most Brazilian mangoes are grown in the north, but there are some in the Mata Atlantica region and it is not uncommon to see mango trees in gardens and parks. For instance, the Solar Monjardim, a mansion and museum house in Vitoria, is surrounded by shade giving mango trees. The shading effect is supposed to be quite calming, being recommended by both Buddha and the James Bond movie Dr No, as can be seen from the lyrics above.

There are 100s of varieties of Mangoes, but the commonest for export, and which accounts for 80% of those in UK supermarkets, is Tommy Atkins. Not the most delicious, but it travels extremely well and doesn't bruise with handling, unlike some other types. It accounts for about 80% of Brazilian commercial mango production. Of course if you are lucky you can get mangoes fresh from the tree.

Mangoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, and the yellow colour comes beta-carotene, a source of vitamin A. There are of course lots of ways to eat mangoes, and drink their juice. One of the most delicious is Mango batitida......

Mix peeled mango, condensed milk and crushed ice in a blender. Add cachaca (rum) to taste. Actually this works very well with pineapple, and especially passion fruit, as well.


Sarah Stephen said...

Thanks for yet another informative post! I should have read this before having eaten one of our harvested mangoes just an hour ago!

Having said that, I must sheepishly confess that I wasn't aware of Kerala's connection with Mango's etymology. Something to be proud of! :D

We have so much to thank Brazil for as well, and of course, the industrious Portugese too.

Ruth Stephen said...

Informative and mouth watering!
In our garden there is a species called Malgova mangoes. Utterly delicious!

Anonymous said...

My God! I want taste all of them!