Tuesday, June 17, 2014

So Long and Thanks for the Mangoes

Monsoon is here! Which means the mango season is almost over. Which means I will have to wait another year for the next mango season.


Horn OK Please: Mango season
Malgova and Jim Corbett for a rainy evening

I love mangoes. My seafarer's nose(more about it here) picks out the sweet scent of mango flowers sometime in February. Once this happens, my pining for mangoes which until then, had simmered deep within me with occasional spurts of urgent cravings, would burst forth impatiently until I satisfied it with the season's first offering a few months later.

My dad shares my love for mangoes. This makes him very particular about how we cut it. A knife was purchased in preparation for the mango season last year. It was hidden from everyone else in case we carelessly and blasphemously used it to cut something other than mango and made it blunt. The fine art of cutting mangoes requires a sharp knife, you see. Dad taught me this art when I came of age. It requires precision and finesse and I'm sure there must be a secret clan of mango cutters which you can only join when you completely master it.

The fine art of mango cutting goes thusly: the mango is held in one cupped hand with its top towards us. Wielding a sharp knife, we begin by shaving off slim slivers of mango skin which fall hither tither. Then, we sink the knife into the yielding golden flesh until we hit the hard seed and make horizontal and vertical lines along the fruit. Once that is done, starting at the top of the mango, we cut along the seed so that perfect cubes(irregular trapezoids in my case) slide off and topple in the most endearing way on to the plate. One of the perfect cubes(trapezoids) is put into our mouths and our thoughts about it declared. And then finally, we divide the mango into equal heaps of gold and pounce on it. The flesh on the seed is reserved for the mango cutter. 

My favourites are the rotund Malgova which is best eaten when not entirely ripe, the slender Benganapalli which I use for my mango cheesecake and Sindoori, because I like its name.

Horn OK Please: mango season
Raspuri for a carefree afternoon spent
 under the trees

The taste of the Neelam I just ate still lingers in my mouth. And in the back of my mind, are the beautiful, pale yellow freckles that adorn the mangoes sitting in a box of hay in a dark room in our house and slowly getting riper by the day.

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