Hot season is moving on and there are more and more mangoes in the market! Our mangoes here in the North are still little inch-long green babies, but I bought some today to get me primed for the season.
Mango, (mamuang in Thai, Mangifera indica to botanists) is native to Southeast Asia. In addition to the ripe fruit like the ones I brought home, there is a cultivar picked green and served with chili sauce. It’s a wonderfully intense mix of sour and spicy. A real treat.
Mango is botanically related to cashew, which, if you see it on the tree looks like a little mango with a cashew hanging on to the bottom. It’s also, strangely enough, related to poison ivy, and its sap contains the same toxin, so people who are highly allergic to poison ivy are generally also allergic to mango.
Above is another mango relative: the gandaria, or plum mango. When I saw it in the market I mistook it for a tiny mango cultivar, but it is a different species in the same family (Bouea macrophylla). It does have the consistency of a plum, with a flavor that reminded me of nectarines and loquats.
Photo from wikipedia
Another new fruit I tried recently (but forgot to take a picture of myself) is the star apple (Chrysophyllum cainito). As fruit geeks can probably tell by looking at the seeds, it’s a member of the Sapotaceae family, relative to sapodilla and mamey sapote. Poetry geeks (yes I’m both of these) might recognize the name from Derek Walcott’s poem and collection, The Star-Apple Kingdom.
Star apple’s white flesh has a creamy texture, with more gelatinous flesh clinging around the seeds. It has a sweet, clear flavor like a pear.