Saturday, June 28, 2008
A Mid Summer Treat
Mango the king of fruits is here! One thing which makes me treat the hot and very humid summer season with less contempt is that besides heat it also brings lots and lots of Mangoes – my favorite fruit for all seasons. This season, for the first time, Mango trees in my garden produced a bounty of fruit. Last several years had seen the fruit being destroyed by the notorious Mango Mealy Bug. All measures to prevent the bug from depriving me of my home grown fruit had proven useless. I remember reading in ‘The Alchemist’- one of my favorite books- ' if you want something very badly the whole universe conspires to give it to you!' So this time around there was some divine intervention (as I didn’t try anything new), and despite the bug, fruits thrived. When you are a witness to the whole process of a mango inflorescence turning into a beautiful handsome fruit, you develop a special affection for it. It was a sight to behold. For a mango lover what can be more pleasing than the site of a Mango laden tree standing proudly in her lawn? They withstood strong winds, rains and stood their ground despite all odds. Finally when it seemed that the time and the fruit, both are ripe, I asked the garden help to pluck and pack the fruits away for ripening.The Mango which comes off the tree requires a storage period of 3-4 days in slightly warm and humid surroundings; it is only after that that it develops the sweet flavor and an appealing yellow color – depending on the cultivar. Here lies the advantage of having home grown mangoes: at some places, in order to make a quick buck, unscrupulous vendors do away with the 3-4 days wait time and artificially ripen mangoes with Calcium Carbide – a sinister practice. Calcium Carbide when dissolved in water gives away Acetylene gas which ripens the mangoes quickly and gives them a healthy color, but the gas is highly toxic and inflammable, moreover Calcium Carbide contains residues of Arsenic and Phosphorus, two very toxic chemicals. After knowing all that, it is very difficult for me to not to eye the luscious looking mango at the local market with a considerable degree of skepticism. 4 days later the Mangoes were all ready to begin their journey down our gastrointestinal tracts. A sweet fruity fragrance pervaded the storage room, tingling my nose and taste buds. My little gardener was also quite excited and shared her Mother’s infatuation for the fruit; she has a very natural way of enjoying it – allowing not just the taste buds, but all the cells on her face to savor the feeling!