My confession for this week is that I never knew mangoes were extremely sweet and tasty. I had an inkling that they were good, (why would all those fruit drinks which have eight different flavors add in mango as a prime ingredient if it didn't taste good, yes?) but intensely sweet and juicy, no. Now I know different.
There may be a difference between the mangoes that are sold in the states and the ones that are here in Ghana, but again my knowledge is not quite sufficient to say what the ones we get in the stores in the U.S. are like in comparison to here. Maybe if I describe them well here, someone back home can comment on how close they sound.
On the tree, and the campus here has maybe a dozen fully-grown mango trees to choose from, the fruit has a light-green colored skin. They will hang in clusters and most of the ones you would be able to reach and pluck by hand are too small and not yet ripe. Those that fall on the ground roll in awkward patterns due to their oblong shape are also rarely ripe. Green is not good. We need the skin to turn a bit yellow first in one place before we can obtain the sweetness. The trouble is how to get then out of the tree when they are ripe.
Enter the children who either live on the campus or very near to the school grounds. They are all free to employ, and they have pretty decent arms for not having the sport of baseball at their disposal. There is really nothing you can use the hard green mangoes that fall to the ground except chuck them up at the ripe fruits stubbornly fixed to their stems high up in the tree. The tree closest to my bungalow is probably fifty feet tall so the good ones don't come off the limbs without this subtle coaxing. I typically take just one of the mangoes that the boys offer me since my guess is that they are going to sell them to others in town.
A brief aside: the senior house-master at this morning's assembly implored the students in his typical rascally way that they are not to be taking rocks, mangoes, or sticks and catapulting them skyward in order to get the fruit. He made one exception to this rule for the mango tree outside of his house. He figured he could partake in the mangoes liberated from his tree by the students. Everyone laughed quite a bit to his exception.
Eating the fruit is quite simple. You just cut into the skin and peel the tough layer off and gnash your teeth into the pulpy yellow-orange fruit. The pit is flat and big and clearly inedible. Depending on how ripe the mango is, you may be able to put your mouth on the meat of the fruit and almost drink the meat in all its sugary goodness. But if it is not overly ripe, then you have to use the teeth a bit to take bites out of it. My only problem is that the strands of the mango wedge themselves efficiently in between my teeth and gums. The mango is an excellent tool to encourage flossing.
So that is my first-hand account of the delicious mango. Does it sound familiar? I will put you down for 30 when you come and visit.