Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mangos in moderation

I’m not sure this really this qualifies as a locally acquired taste since there is evidence of my appreciation of mangoes prior to arriving in Ghana.

Here I am somewhere in Australia delighting in mango ice-cream next to the world’s largest mango. Oooh that was good.

Even before that though, I was making a concoction I called mango salsa. It included (duh) mango, red and green pepper, cilantro, onion and a liberal dash of tequila. Batches varied wildly from what might be described as “a nice balance” to “who put the mango in my tequila?” Perhaps not always intended for the kiddies, but it was generally a hit at the office.

Fast forward a few years when my office setting did not quite allow for mid-day communal munching. Trader Joes filled the void with pre-packaged, sliced, dried and very sweet mango chunks. A few of these babies could send my blood sugar sky rocketing. They made (and still are) a great mid-ride treat when legs are flagging.

Ok, now onto Ghana – a country up to its ears in tropical fruits – pineapples, coconuts, papaya, oranges, bananas, plantains and, of course, mangoes. At least two varieties of mangoes even. Big juicy mangos are my favourite. Apparently they are not native to West Africa, but do well enough economically. The smaller, stringier variety is native, I’m told, but is really not worth all the teeth cleaning effort involved to really enjoy it. So…

Almost every outing included at least a quick glance at the road side fruit-n-veggie stands to check supplies. Sometimes they were perfect to be eaten now. Others needed to wait a day or two to ripen. I’m still not sure how to tell the difference. There was usually room in my bag for a mango or two.



Mixed with yogurt, ice, milk and other fruit.

Always a mess to prepare.

Unfortunately, after several months of eating mangoes, I seemed to develop some sort of allergy. Not right away as would be ideal. No, I would continue to eat plate after plate of mango. A few days later my lips would become almost chapped lasting for two weeks. I will spare you the pictures. We weren’t certain if the allergy was caused by ingesting too many mangoes, or handling the sappy ones right from the tree. At least twice this happened – the last being in May 2007. It was pretty frustrating, but I swore off mangos for a while.

Now March 2008, and it appears that I still have a slight allergy. This only after SJD carefully did all the washing and slicing. All I did was admire the bright color and have one little bite. Mmmmm…so good, but so bad too.

Now, I'm afraid that mangos are just out to get me. There are a number of fruit bearing trees on my project site - including mangos. Most of the fruit has been picked by passersby for personal consumption or perhaps resale at the tro-tro stop. It is just the way things work around here.
The project site gate keeper swings open the gate in the morning when I arrive for work on my bike. The larges mango tree is litterally a few feet beyond the gate. A few months ago during prime growing season, the branches were hanging quite low full of fruit. Only after riding head on into a low hanging mango a couple dozen times, the mangoes disappeared.

A coworker still, every now and then, surprises me with a plate of freshly cut fruit. Mostly pineapple, papaya or bananas now. And not just one banana either. Sometimes as many as five of the tiny variety.