It is quite hot in Boston today but despite the heat, millions are gathering in the streets to celebrate the US Independence Day. I took the privilege of a day off from work to grab a nice cold drink and enjoy reading by the banks of the river (that divides hip Boston from the academic Cambridge). I tried my best to focus on the reading (Freakonomics – by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner), but a picture and a thought kept emerging in my mind. Yumm…Mangoes!
While complaints of extreme heat, humidity and electricity/water shortages by my family in Karachi help me not miss back home as much during these summer months, I do miss my mangoes. Its mango season in full swing, and once again I am not there to enjoy it. Every year I hear so many Pakistani friends now living outside Pakistan complain about the same thing. There is simply nothing quite like the mango season in Pakistan. Ripe, fresh, tasteful, and deliberately available in large quantities so one can make entire meals out of it. From squeezing the juices while still in the skin, to cutting into little slices and cubes for display, grating into thick milkshakes, cooking into chutneys and achars, freezing into ice-creams, jams, marmalades, and serving in Kheers and cakes with kulfi, badam and pista…mangoes are quitessential summer treat for people of my land. And not being in Pakistan every summer makes me a deprived Pakistani.
And what is a summer without mangoes? Green ones, yellow ones, small ones, big ones: so many varieties that only my dad could tell some of them (though he continues to try and teach me about them) – Langda, Sindhri, Chaunsa, Alphonso, etc…Is there a soul on this earth who is not tempted by this luscious, succulent fruit? Even the greatest of poets, Amir Khusro, was a fan of this heavenly fruit. In one of his verses he call it: “the choicest fruit of Hindustan”, Mirza Ghalib, the most romantic urdu poet was also a fan of the mangoes. When he was once asked to spell out his eating preferences, he is supposed to have remarked in his unmistakable style: “Aam meethe hon aur bahut se hon” (let there be sweet mangoes and in plenty).
If there is one reason for it to be summer all year round, its mangoes. I am headed to Europe this week – and now in search of Pakistani mangoes. Heard they are more easily imported there than in the US. Sorry friends: while the Mexican varieties have their place they just don’t stand up against the Pakistani ones. Try one today and you will be a fan forever.
More info at:
More about mangoes: http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/mango.html
Wikipedia on mangoes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mango
Discover Pakistani mangoes: http://rayma.com.my/pakistanmangoes/index.html
Mango – fashion for young, urban women: http://www.mango.com/paises.htm