Featured interview with Chef Allen Susser, Author of The Great Mango Book; and Dr Noris Ledesma, Curator of Tropical Fruit, Fairchild Tropical Garden:
The month of June is celebrated in the United States as National Mango Month. Truthfully though, mango lovers can’t be restrained to just one month of celebrating this golden symbol of sweetness and sheer goodness. Celebrations for the “King of Fruits” are dropping all year long, across the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa and Asia. Their adoring fans love it all. Fibrous or smooth, oblong or oval, mangoes are the ultimate comfort food.
Mangoes out-rival all other fruits in flavor, color and nostalgic aroma. This giant of a fruit even has its own day! In the United States of America, July 22 is declared National Mango Day (ok don’t judge me for knowing that). There you have it folks, Mango has its own month and designated day! The Mango is the great equalizer that transcends color, class and creed and reigns supreme in a league of its own! Full disclosure here: Tanya The Mango Lady is a “self diagnosed mango loving addict,” who needs no cure.
Not all mangoes are the same though. It’s one of the few fruits that appear in a myriad of types. There are believed to be over a thousand mango varieties around the world. Mangoes first originated in Southern India, where the fruit is referenced in Hindu writings as far back as 4000 B.C. and centuries later, the mango is still considered a sacred fruit among many cultures in southern Asia. In the U.S. Mangoes have been grown for a little more than a century, and mainly flourish on a commercial scale in areas like: Florida, California, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.
I’m not mango crazed or merely greedy, the nutritional benefits of mangoes speak to the superiority of this impressive fruit. It needs no defense or public opinion poll. Mangoes are a super fruit and an excellent source of vitamins A and C, a good source of fiber and contains vitamin B-6 (11% of the daily recommended intake) which promotes the production of serotonin. This hormone elevates your mood, so mangoes are not just delicious, its also a great way to improve your overall well-being and makes you feel great. The fruit is also a great source of beta-carotene, and contains powerful antioxidants that have the capability of neutralizing free radicals and prevents premature aging. That’s right! Mangoes have anti-aging properties, so get your mango-licious consumption on. Who would not love a fruit packed with goodness, that brings out your beauty and makes you feel fabulous!
So you’re probably sitting there thinking “goodness gracious, this lady has got to be the biggest mango lover this side of the Milky Way.” I assure you I am NOT alone! There are multitudes of fellow mango loving loyalists out there! I met many of them recently while attending the first Bingo Bango Mango Festival hosted by the self proclaimed “original mango gang member,” Chef Allen Susser. The juicy mango jubilee was held on June 30, 2019, at Lincoln Road Eatery, a popular food hall in Miami Beach, Florida. This Mango Lady was certainly in her element surrounded by lots of die hard mango lovers from all around the globe.
The mango-centric celebration had all 13 restaurants within Lincoln Eatery’s food hall whipping up mouth watering mango inspired dishes (Moment of silence). The event brought together kids, adults, farmers, chefs and even the pets for an afternoon of entertainment, mango sampling, and live mango cooking demonstrations.
The Bingo Bango Mango Festival culminated with a mango contest composed of panel of celebrity judges, where winners took home prizes for: biggest, smallest, ugliest and best tasting mango. Based on the panel’s selection, the Haden was dubbed the best tasting mango of 2019. Ok so Haden is not one of my personal top favorites. I prefer the high fiber East Indian mango or a magnificent mango found in the western region of Jamaica called the Robin Mango. Nonetheless the 2019 Bingo Bango event gets 5 stars on the mangolicious-meter. I enjoyed trying new mangoes like Jumbo Kesar from India and look forward to attending next year’s 2020 Bingo Bango Mango event for sure.
So the Bingo Bango Mango event got me thinking…there is definitely a language among mangoes. It’s a subtle informal non verbal code with each mango evoking its own hidden message. The mango even contains a unique diplomatic language that causes heads of states to exchange mangoes as a token of peace, emblem of solidarity, or the basis of international trade. Under President George Bush the U.S. established a trade agreement back in 2007 that allowed India to export its first freight of mouth-watering mangoes to the United States. After a twenty year ban, the U.S. agreed to important Indian Mangoes in exchange for Harley Davidson bikes, which were exported to India and sold in the Indian Market for the first time in history. Only the persuasive powerful mango could be traded for a Harley Hog!
Those who appreciate a good mango know the language of mangoes. For instance one East Indian or one Julie mango gifted to a friend says “I care about you” yet 10 Hadens or 20 hairy/ruby mangoes say “I was just in the neighborhood and brought these over as a courtesy.” Learning the flavors, texture and pleasure derived from each mango type is like studying a gemstone collection to identify your prized possession among many stones! Decoding the language of mangoes makes the mango experience even richer and deeper when you encounter this fleshly jewel.
During National Mango Month I got the distinct pleasure to interview two of South Florida’s culinary influencers and fellow mango lovers to hear their opinions about this power packed fruit. Below is a recap of our interviews with: Chef Allen Susser, Author of The Great Mango Book; and Dr. Noris Ledesma, Curator of Tropical Fruit, Fairchild Tropical Garden:
The mango is truly one of God’s greatest blessings to mankind. Here in South Florida we are fortunate to have the perfect climate and soil condition to host many acres of beautiful jewel laden mango trees. This mango season, I hope you will partake in the bountiful mango harvest happening in urban gardens, rural fields, swales and food halls here in Florida and all across the globe. What’s your mango language? Leave a comment and let us know what your favorite mango is?
Have a Mango-licious day!
Additional Mango Facts:
Benefits of Mangoes, https://healthfully.com/441085-what-do-mangos-do-for-the-body.html
Mango Tree Craft Collection Business https://youtu.be/7q9rfL2R9KI