Nothing tastes quite like summer like a bowl of freshly cut, perfectly ripe mangoes right from your backyard. Nothing.
Afternoon thunderstorms. Breezy dresses. Nappy afternoons. Winding pointless conversations with no end in sight simply conversed for the sake of talking. Ice cream. Chai. Iced chai. And of course, mangoes. This is what summers at The Laal Bungalow are made of.
Mangoes are a big deal. Like a big, big deal in Indian culture. When any Indian man or woman discovers a big, juicy mango swaying in the tree, you’ll witness a sight of utmost delight, pure joy. I mean, they turn into giddy kids jumping up and down thrilled.
Sitting under the shade of lush, billowing, fruit giving mango trees is really something. Doing with your daughter and mother and sister is something else. The simplicity of it. The nostalgia of it. The joy of it.
Mangoes have been a part of our life for as long as I can remember. I loved climbing mango trees from dusk 'til dawn in our old house as long as mom would let me. I would find a branch and read a book. It made me feel like an adventurer and equal parts wild and intelligent.
This was one of the reasons we made the choice to raise Viv close to our families, even at the expense of big city advantages. Our parents’ stories. I want her to learn about India from my Mom and aunts. Not a watered-down, butchered second-hand version through me (whose gujurati still sucks, who retained little to NO information from the lessons learned and is only now re-learning/learning for the first time???) I don’t think so.
A bountiful harvest
I mean, it’s endless. We have too many! The thing is, we take them down before the squirrels get them. But the realness of picking mangos (well, let’s be honest, Sharadha and Dad are picking mangoes. I’m just making content and making it look like what you think mango picking in the summer with your family should look like). Swinging. Swaying. Aimless. Breezy. Warm but comfortable. Together. Senses fully engaged, fully alive. Now this is life. I love it. They all love it. Viv loves it. It’s the things we’re going to remember most when these days have faded into distant memories and Viv's all grown up.
While dissecting my own obsession with mango, I wondered, is this an obsession that is unique to me or something I was born with? The latter must be true. It’s genetic. I swear it’s passed down. It’s not that crazy if you look at the history.
Our earth was first blessed with mangoes 25 to 30 million years ago. The evidence was discovered in parts of Northeast India, Myanmar and Bangladesh. From here, it found its way down to South India.
The Legacy of Mango in India
- First known as Amra-Phal
- In Vedic lit, it’s known as Rasala and Sahakara
- It’s mentioned in the Hindu religious texts of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and the Puranas, which condemn the felling of mango trees.
- During the Nanda rule, Alexander (yes! The Great one!) arrived in India and fought King Porus. (A now famous battle.) When it was time for him to return to Greece, he took with him several varieties of mango
Alright, so that’s the historical take. Here’s the "official" Nutrient version:One cup (165 grams) of sliced mango provides the following:
- Calories: 99
- Protein: 1.4 grams
- Carbs: 24.7 grams
- Fat: 0.6 grams
- Dietary fiber: 2.6 grams
- Vitamin C: 67% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Copper: 20% of the RDI
- Folate: 18% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 11.6% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 10% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 9.7% of the RDI
- Vitamin B5: 6.5% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 6% of the RDI
- Niacin: 7% of the RDI
- Potassium: 6% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 5% of the RDI
- Manganese: 4.5% of the RDI
- Thiamine: 4% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 4% of the RDI