Indian Mango Alert Level: Orangish-Green

kyu-mango.jpgIndian mangoes have arrived in the U.S. for the first time, and for me, my family, and my friends, this is a big freaking deal. I've got a lot to say about the subject, but if you weren't familiar with the fact that this is the first time in history that we in the United States are able to eat mangoes that are actually from the place that mangoes were born, it's time to get acquainted.

Some good recent news coverage:

Last March, President George W. Bush signed two landmark pacts with India: one on nuclear technology, the other lifting a 17-year restriction on the import of Indian mangoes. The world's news media paid attention to the nuclear accord. But in the Indian community here and throughout the country, the magic word was "mango."

But this was not just any mango. It was most definitely not the pretty but bland mainstream specimens from South America that, Indians sniff, serve more to decorate the table than to be consumed. Nor was it the more aromatic, tangier Mexican imports found at many Indian grocers and sold cheap by the dozen.

This was an Alphonso from India - the hands-down "king of mangoes," as it's known. The deep-orange flesh oozes sticky juice, the texture is smooth, with hardly a fiber, and the heady aroma fills the room. And what about the flavor? The sweetness can be so intense that more than one Indian expat has described it as "heavenly."

Though hundreds of mango varieties are grown in India, only three -- Alphonso, Kesar and Banganpalli -- will be available in the U.S. this season. Alphonsos and Kesars were the first to arrive.

Alphonsos, smallish and golden-yellow, are amazingly sweet and succulent, with floral aromas and a creamy, fiber-free texture. Los Angeles-based produce wholesaler Melissa's received a shipment the first week of May, says Robert S. Schueller, director of public relations for the firm. Although Melissa's distributed them to retailers in Texas, Pennsylvania
and New York, L.A. retailers didn't bite, Schueller says, thanks to their high price -- they sell for $35 for a case of 12.

Oh, and in case you're really a beginner, check out the Wikipedia article on mangoes. Once you're done with all the required reading, we'll move on to more advanced topics.

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