It’s summer time and there really is nothing that makes me like it (dhoop, paseena, and what not!). I’d rather shiver than sweat. But then, there’s always an exception and it is…mangoes!
Yes, the summer sun heralds the arrival of the King of Fruits, and rightly so. Heard of sun-kissed oranges? I look forward to sun-kissed mangoes! For various reasons the two mango trees in our homestead had to be chopped off. But that never meant ‘the end’ of mango arrivals during summers. We get plenty brought over from mom’s and dad’s homes and other relatives’ places too (like many of such things). Of course, one could pay and get them too, but only if you’re looking for mangoes that are “carbide-ripe” that is! Besides, nothing beats mangoes that grow naturally (and by that, I mean no human interference for increased yields) in your own backyard. Add to it the fact that your parents have fond memories associated with them, and it becomes even more special.
There are ever so many kinds and varieties of mangoes, that it’d be pointless to discuss them! I mean, eat the fibre-less melts-in-the-mouth type Mulgoa, and you’ll realize why the lyricist chose to write ‘Maambazha koottathil Mulgoa-yaanu nee…” and not moovandan or neelan!
But there is one kind that I would like to make a special mention of. It’s called the ‘chappi kudiyan’. To the non-Malayali folks, roughly translated it would mean ‘suck-n-drink’. Yes, that’s right. This kind of mango is small, pretty fibrous and is not exactly the table variety kinds. You don’t peel-slice-cut them. Simply wash the fruits, remove the stalk portion, gently squeeze out the initial bit of juice that runs (the one mixed with the latex/irritating sap – you don’t want to burn your tongue!) and…suck on it. With the skin (which is relatively thick) intact. There is absolutely nothing sophisticated about enjoying mangoes that way, and those who have a problem seeing people eat with their hands (a separate post on that pet topic of mine might follow) will probably take offence, what with the juice running out onto your hands, necessitating you to lick it up. But then, that’s how that mango deserves to be consumed! You really don’t care whether you look stupid, and forgive the occasional fibre that gets caught between your teeth. And the biggest satisfaction is when you see the mango stone (stone = seed) turn a pale yellow – the paler it is means the more ‘juice’ you’ve extracted from it, and so the better you are! (You might even check with the person next to you). Hell, there’s no comparison between eating it this way and nibbling a slice at the end of a fork!
There’s one such tree at my mom’s place and come summer time it’s a routine to go check if these mangoes have fallen (the tree is huge). Then all of us - right from my 80+ year old grandma to the youngest 10-year old cousin enjoy this delight, in this precise manner. The only kind of ‘sucking up’ I have no qualms about! Of course you could prepare a curry (the famed maambhaza pulisseri) with it too…IF you can manage to save enough from the clutches of mango-thirsty folks at home, that is.
As enticing as Katrina looks in the Slice Aam Sutra ad (lapping up that lone drop of mango juice that fell on her lips) they got it absolutely wrong. That ain’t ‘Pure Mango Pleasure’. And Frooti - Fresh and Juicy? Really? But they did get it partly right with the ‘Why Grow Up?’ campaign. I mean, for the chappi kudiyan – puurrrfect!