Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Mango Festival

There was a mango festival this weekend at the stadium, a 10 minute walk from home. There were yellow green boards all over the town announcing the 4th mango festival.

We in this part of the world, I dare say, know about mangoes more than others. I used to make such a show of being a connoisseur of mangoes while in France! I would pick one up, peer at it, sniff it and then put it back with a shake of my head. No sir, this isn't a good 'Mangue'!! And there was no one out there to tell me otherwise. But this festival put in my place and proper! I realized that I knew only three of four varieties and that too, only their names - Alfonso, langra, chausa, himsagar and a few more. I cannot identify them for the life of me! The wide variety had me jaw dropped! There were 348 varieties spread out on 6 long tables.

There were the ones which looked amazing :-
Nazuk pasand (delicate choice, roughly translated) a regular mango but with an ear like flap sticking out at one end.
Chitla - banana yellow smallish mangoes with green specks.
Kalmi Bela - same banana yellow but with green stripes.
Tota pari asli - (Tota is hindi for parrot) - each mango ends in the most astonishing pointed beak.
Gola (Cannon ball) - is large and heavy.
Laila ki Unglian (Laila's fingers) - really slender tiny mangoes some one and a half inch in size!

Then the variety

Papita - large heavy mango looking exactly like Papayas.
Button - tiny plum sized perfectly formed mangoes
Malika - Long sensuous ones
Husn Ara - A lovely delicate golden colour
Maharani - about the size of a lime.

Then there were the ones with the odd names. I would have liked to ask the organisers about their origin but for the mad rush.

Mishti Sona (roughly translated, sweet darling, in bengali)
Padriwala - The Priest
Bhutto - After Ex-Pak PM Butto?
Mr Ford - (Mind boggles at the name)
Then there were the Bhog, rasgolas, amrit kalash all named after Indian deserts. And lastly there was 'Laila Majnu' a pair of medium mangoes in a dish!

We have been to so many food exhibitions in our little town back in France...all serving their specialites - pate, sausages, breads, biscuits in bite sized portions. So, we were expecting some sort of samples here as well. Alas, these were only for viewing and not for tasting. There were stalls selling mangoes by the crate (roughly 4 kilos per crate) which one had to buy using one's mango buying prowess or like in our case, a wild hunch.

I consoled myself by saying that if they started to give out samples out here, the would a) go bankrupt b) there'd be a wild stampede c) or both!!

Later on I found out that there indeed is a much larger festival in Talkotra in delhi where there they give out mangoes to sample. Well anyhow, this wasn't too bad and the mangoes we bought were quite sweet!

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