I love mangoes.
I will eat mangoes until I am doubled over with stomach pain because mangoes, I truly believe, prove there is a higher power that loves us and wants us to have things that taste good.
In fact, I’ll share a secret with you. In the spring and summer, if you are at the Union Square Greenmarket, cross 14th Street, and head to the intersection of 13th and Broadway, and, if you are lucky, the mango-on-a-stick lady will be there on one of the corners.
I know there are other mango-on-a-stick men and women, but this woman is my favorite. She’ll load you up with a couple extra napkins and call you “honey” besides. No one in NYC calls me “honey,” ever. And for a mere two dollars, she will give you, well, a mango. On a stick. The skin is completely peeled away and the flesh is expertly carved away from the center pit.
And, if you must gild the lily, she keeps a whole array of things to put on the mango: salt, lemon, hot sauce, cayenne pepper. I get mine with salt — sometimes with salt and lemon — although this mango-on-a-stick lady will ask you, that it, honey? with this slight edge of concern, which will make you wonder if you’re missing out by not ordering something else on it.
Still, as good that mango is, it’s still not an Indian mango — which Madhur Jaffrey has referred to as “the King of Fruit, Indian masterpieces that are burnished like jewels, oozing sweet, complex flavors” — because until March of last year, the US had a ban on Indian mangoes. And sadly, even though mango season doesn’t really get going until early May, the cogs of bureaucracy didn’t quite turn fast enough to get those mangoes onto US shelves in time.
I am dying to try to one of these mangoes.
When I started writing this post, about a week ago, I emailed Whole Foods’ customer service, asking if they were going to stock Indian mangoes. It took them a while to get back to me, but to their credit, they didn’t just send me a canned reply. They forwarded my email to the Floral and Produce Senior Coordinator for the Northeast Region, Fred Kasak. I just wish Mr. Kasak had better news for me:
We will begin to source Indian Mangoes as soon as possible. While the ban has been lifted for almost a year now, the infrastructure and marketing arms of the Indian mango industry have not set up shop here in the USA.
He went on to taunt me with a little anecdote of eating Indian mangoes while traveling in Asia. “The most memorable,” he wrote, “was one that was so big I was sold it in a burlap sack with its own handle! From what I know of Indian mangoes they are amazing.” Damn, Fred. Way to break my heart, man.
I was hoping to wrap up this post with a cheery look for Indian mangoes at Whole Foods this spring! but instead, I guess my mango quest will continue.
Still, I have my mango-on-a-stick lady to look forward to this summer. I think this year I will try one with everything.