Fresh mangos.

One of the many joys of living in a tropical country is the easy access to home-grown and local tropical fruits.  Mangos have always been a favourite, since I was a child in Africa.  With the usual childhood lack of airs and graces about eating tidily, I can remember many a time sat at the kitchen table with juice running down my face and arms as I sucked the remaining fruit from the stone inside.  Our little girl is already a massive mango fan, so I know I’ll be seeing her do the same when she is a bit bigger.

I was thinking about an entry for Ailsa’s ‘fresh’ travel theme, and I thought of food instantly.  And what better than fresh mango?  We are now at the start of the mango season here in Brunei, which makes me very, very happy.  I know, simple pleasures!  So I have spent the past few weeks walking round the garden with my little girl in my arms, inspecting the ripening fruit hanging enticingly on the mango tree which reaches over our garden.

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Ripening mangos on the tree

Friends would come round and exclaim at the number of mangos on the tree, commenting that I was going to be in for a bumper crop.  Initially I was very British about it.  The tree is not actually in our garden, it just overhangs it.  Surely that makes it someone else’s property?  It wouldn’t be right for me to take the fruit, would it?  Would I cause offence or get in trouble for that?

With Sharia law now in place here in Brunei and some uncertainty about what that really means for expats, I certainly was not willing to risk a severe penalty for something as stupid as a couple of mangos!!  But then something utterly un-British happened which made me rethink my perspective.

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The overhanging branches, weighed down by the bumper crop.

Random people started walking into my garden to check out the mangos for themselves.  People I had never met.  Uninvited.  Strolling calmly into my garden.  Clearly this is normal behaviour here because if I happened to be around when they did it, they’d just wave, smile and carry on.  I was dumb-founded.  Should I be irritated or amused?  It certainly would never happen in England!  But then it dawned on me.  If the locals thought it was totally fine for them to wander in and stake a claim on the mangos, then that must surely mean we could take some too!

The only problem was that if we’d left it until the mangos were actually ripe on the tree….well…there would be no mangos left to pick! To ensure they don’t miss out, the local people take them from the tree early and then fully ripen them indoors, wrapped in newspaper.  People have been turning up with a bizarre assortment of homespun mango picking equipment to harvest the fruit from the higher branches.  Big sticks, poles with handles, fishing nets…all sorts.  It has made for quite entertaining viewing watching people trying to harvest the mangos, whilst dealing with the shower of aggressive large red ants which shower down on them from the tree branches along with the fruit!

We have a lovely lady who helps us with the house, and she has been harvesting and ripening a few of the mangos for us, as well as some for herself.   And they have been utterly delicious.  The variety is a South East Asian one.  Locally they are called ‘Philippines mangos’ although I think they grow widely across South East Asia.  They are soft and sweet, and nothing like the more tart and fibrous large mangos found in supermarkets in the UK.

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mmmm, finally ready to eat!

We only had a handful of fruit from our own tree, but it really is true that nothing beats local produce.  I am hoping to pick up a few more mangos at the food market this weekend, making the most of the seasonal bounty whilst it lasts.  And now we know the way it works we’ll be more prepared for the harvesting frenzy next year!

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9 thoughts on “Fresh mangos.

  1. wrightsolution

    Wow. That is absolutely a Philippines mango…and they are the best mangos I have ever tasted from our time in Manila. No wonder the locals are hanging around like bees around a honey pot. I’ve found they do ripen off the tree as long as they aren’t picked too green. And I also learnt just last week that we have a mango try in our garden here, but I’m not expecting them to be as good. Enjoy!

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    1. jennylratcliffe Post author

      Bees round a honey pot is exactly right! I wasn’t sure that they’d be any good ripened off the tree, but they are not bad at all. A lovely surprise for you that you have a mango tree – hope you get lots of fruit. Even if not as good as Philippines mangos, any mango is better than none!

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  2. Pingback: Mango | the greener bench

    1. jennylratcliffe Post author

      Thanks for the link. Good to meet a fellow mango fan! Lovely post. Did it make you go out and buy some? I’ve been curiously pre-occupied by mango recipes these past few weeks…can’t think why! 🙂

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  3. Gerry C.

    Enjoyed your article. I also enjoy mangoes. Have you ever tried horned melon (a.k.a. Kiwano) It is also a succulent fruit with a banana-kiwi-cucumber flavor? It’s really quite good. Thanks for sharing your story.

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    1. jennylratcliffe Post author

      Thanks – I’m glad you enjoyed it. I have never come across a kiwano, although I loved your post a while back about it, and I will definitely give it a go if I ever do spot one in a market anywhere. Banana-kiwi-cucumber flavour sounds too intriguing to pass up!

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