Wednesday, July 13, 2011

0013: Mangoes

I love mangoes! They grow just about everywhere here. My neighbor across the street literally has hundreds from a giant mango tree that leans into her yard from her neighbors yard; I can't imagine how many her neighbor gets!! I come home and sometimes find bags full of these precious sweet fruits - thanks Danielle!! Then my mom has another kind of mango, bigger and sweet in a different way. So every year I indulge to my hearts content. I slice them up or just peel and eat them while trying not to make too much of a mess. These are from my mom's tree - when we are overwhelmed by the number of mangoes, she makes mango marmalade and I make mango tinis :-)

But to my surprise, Florida is not the center of the mango universe... About 4000 BC ago, the wild mango originated in the foothills of the Himalayas of India and Burma, and about 40 to 60% of these trees still grow in India and Southeast Asia. Also known as Mangifera Indica, this exotic fruit belongs to the family of Anacardiaceae (how do you even pronounce that!). Though native to Southern and Southeast Asia, the fruit is now also grown in Central and South America, Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Today there are over 1,000 different varieties of mangos throughout the world. (Read more including the Top 10 Health Benefits of Mangoes.) Mangoes weren't even grown in Florida until the 40's!
A few other interesting points: the mango is the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines. The mango tree is the national tree of Bangladesh. And in Australia, mangoes are considered to be a symbol of summer; the first tray of mangoes of the season is traditionally sold at an auction for charity. (Read more.)
So we may not be the center of all things mango but we certainly appreciate them. I gift mangoes from my mom's tree and everyone lights up when they receive them. Just a few weeks ago I saw a couple of schoolgirls climbing a mango tree just to get these yummy delights. In my neighborhood it is typical to see kids with a mango stand instead of a lemonade stand. I also see unattended baskets of mangoes in front lawns advertising mangoes for sale. So mangoes... another wonderful thing about summer - beautiful, yummy mangoes!!!

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