Saturday, September 04, 2004

Mango Heaven

Mango lady
Mango lady, originally uploaded by Miloflamingo.
I have a mango problem right now. It isn't a bad problem, I don't think. Actually it's rather nice in a way. You see mango season is in full swing and living as I do in the middle of mango orchards, lots of well-meaning neighbours have been giving me mangos. That was fine as long as I had a bunch of young people under my roof, but my daughter is now on her way back to New York, where she will join Emily who was here earlier this summer. Their other friend now has an apartment in Zamalek, from whence he will venture forth in search of Arabic lessons and volunteer work with some of the refugees living in Cairo. The house is all mine and so, apparently are the approximately eight kilos (almost 20 lbs) of mangos in the kitchen. You see the problem? I'm sure that plenty of you would kill to have such a problem. But be warned: Eating 8 kg of mangos could bring on some fairly ferocious gastrointestinal revenge.

A few days ago we were invited to a Mexican lunch and mango feast at some friends' home. They own a large mango plantation east of Cairo towards Ismailia. Karim brought in a selection of about 10 types of the 32 varieties of mango that he grows. They varied in size from a large tangerine size to some monsters similar to the 1 kg creature being devoured in the photo. Of one variety, he only had two examples so they were cut into small slices to drive us all made with temptation. It had almost no fibers (a failing with some mango varieties) and a rich sweet almost buttery flavour with just a hint of coconut. What a mango! And in about four years when his crop is ready, he will make some very nice money with them.

Mangos aren't cheap by Egyptian standards, though they might seem so with the application of exchange rates. During the three or four months that they are in season, they sell for anywhere from 6 to 15 or 20 LE per kilo. The price varies with the variety of mango (there are hundreds of varieties) and the rarity of the variety, along with how good they look and their ripeness. So far this summer my household has managed to consume about 300 LE worth of gift mangos and about 50 LE of mangos that we've bought.

Mangos are sweet and high in betacarotene, so they are good for you. But what our visitors always have to find out the hard way, they can be a bit tough on the tummy. They are rich and rather acidic, so our summer visitors always have to gradually ease into mango consumption. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.


Virginia said...

Oooh Maryanne. You have to try this! Mangos give great facials! Cut the peel off rather thick (or just slurp off the good stuff), rub it on your face, and let it dry for up to ten minutes. Wash well. The fruit acids are great for your skin, and the vitamins don't hurt either.

Eyes said...

I love mangos. Just ate two of them the other day. I can't get enough of them. Sounds like you are in mango heaven!

R said...

Hi... I'm Ramy who posted a comment to your site maybe a month ago (why not live in Egypt), remember.
I love mangos... My father has a small farm in Fayoum where he grows almost exclusively mangoes, Eweis, Taymour, Alphonse, Hendi.. I miss them, now that I'm in the US and it's rare to fall on a good mango with no fibres.

I just dropped by to say hello, now that you're out of the blogger list, you're back to quiet commenters. I'm still a regular reader of yours.

I don't know if you can read Arabic as well as you speak it, but I hope you can check my blog at

Anonymous said...

I stumbled onto your blog a few months ago. Love reading about your life in Egypt.

One of my favorite things about visiting Cairo is the fresh mango juice. I adore it. The first year I visited, I pretty much lived off of it. Soooo good! Just reading this post makes me miss it. There is simply nothing even close in the sates.