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Mango Fever

For those who need to constantly justify, there’s a common refrain in Bombay: “Well, the weather in the summer is terrible. But the mangoes make it worth it.”

We’re now in the throes of the true ‘Indian summer.’ April and May bring on the heat until the June monsoons roll in.  Going outside is an exercise in moving quickly enough to get from one place to the next while moving slowly enough to not sweat through everything you’re wearing. There is no hiding the difficulties of this weather.

But the mangoes.

I’m not sure I agree with the sentiment that the mangoes are worth the heat (I’d certainly trade them just to feel cool again) – but they are something to behold. Imagine the ripest, juciest mango you’ve ever tasted in the Western world. Then stretch your imagination to think of what would happen if you multiplied the taste of that mango by a hundred. That’s Indian Alphonso mangoes.

Alphonso Mangoes at Crawford Market

You can’t live in India in May and not know about these mangoes. You start hearing about them everywhere in April: “I’m just waiting for the Alphonsos.” “I saw someone selling mangoes claiming they were Alphonsos, but everyone knows they’re not ripe yet.” “They’re just starting to come, really expensive, but they’re coming.”

Then suddenly, they are everywhere you turn – you start seeing the boxes at every fruit-stand on every corner; sellers start coming by your car as you’re parked at the stoplight; signs heralding their arrival at shops display their joy from windows; shops and restaurants start offering mango lassis, mango tarts and mango ice cream; there’s a constant stream of newspaper articles about the state of mango season (My favorite line from a Times of India article: “The king of fruits has made its maiden entry to the Belgaum fruit markets, but the prices are out of the reach of common man.” Or, more recently, “The king of summers, mango, has already arrived in the city and is spreading its sweet smell in the markets.” In the last 3 months the Times of India has produced 179 articles mentioning mangoes…)

Mango sellers

Mumbai has mango fever and it has it bad.

It’s perfectly understandable – I would venture to say its certainly one of the best fruits I’ve ever eaten. But the mania has just begun and I can only watch, amused, at the state of love people have for their mangoes. My only option? I guess I’m going to have to keep eating mangoes.

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