Sweet, refreshing, versatile: An open letter to mango, king of fruits

Nandita Radhakrishnan/Staff

Related Posts

Dear mango,

I’ve been meaning to write you for a long time now — just to let you know the special place you occupy in our lives. Words fail me when I’m asked to describe you. One has to experience you to be able to appreciate your dynamic character.

You’re bestowed with the title of “the king of fruits” for no mere reason. Mighty and majestic, you rule the world of fruits due to your unmatched sweetness. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but at least here in India, you’re worshipped during the summers for the refreshing respite you provide.

Come April, I excitedly run to the grocery stores hoping to see you stocked — shelves full of juicy, yellow mangoes waiting to be devoured. One of my favorite memories every summer is when the whole family, from cousins to grandparents, gather around a large plate of cut mangoes after dinner and empty it within seconds! The biggest fight is always who gets the final piece. The mangoes that were supposed to last a week would be gone in a day.

Not only are you enjoyed in your simple cut-fruit form, but you are also famously known for your droolworthy aamras, an Indian delicacy made with your sweet pulp that is sure to leave anyone tempted to have more. I am awed by your versatility and the love you receive even in your unripe form. I cannot imagine life without avakai (mango pickle made from cut unripe mango pieces) or aam panna (a mango drink). As a child, I was so addicted to your avakai that my parents had to remind me to stop having it at every meal lest I get sick. Oh, and how could I forget your cool, refreshing aam panna, which rejuvenated me after long, tiring days. You win hearts even with your tangy manga pachadi, a side dish heartily eaten in South Indian households and made during weddings!

In fact, you’ve become a cultural icon in India. You’re even featured in traditional Indian designs — the mango shape that appears in mehendi art and clothes is all thanks to you!

Despite your fan following across the world and across all ages, you have remained the same simple, humble, down-to-earth mango, and it is that humility I admire.

Wherever I am in my life, I am positive that you will be there in your many forms!

Contact Nandita Radhakrishnan at [email protected].