Clasa a 12-a B
Colegiul Național “Mircea cel Bătrân”
Nicknamed ”the king of fruits”, mango (from the Portugese word “māṅṅa”) is found in over a thousand delicious varieties, being the main ingredient of many types of juices and exotic dishes. It is an oval fruit with various colours, from yellow to reddish and greenish hues, with an unique flavour and of great importance in terms of nutrition and symbolism.
Mango is a stone fruit (fruits with fleshy mesocarp and an endocarp composed of a single stone) and belongs to the Anacadriaceae family, the Sapindales order. The mango trees are majestic, reaching over 30m in height and 6m in circumference, having reddish leaves which turn green at maturity, being the largest fruit-trees in the world. They are also long-lasting, since even after 300 years they can further bear, giving sweet fruits in the summer harvest. With a mesocarp variable in form, color and fiber, a thick exocarp and an endocarp surrounding a seed, the fully ripe fruit becomes orange and gets a juicy texture, while the one in an early stage of maturity is pale yellow and very hard.
Mangifera Indica, under its scientific name, has its origins in India and Pakistan and is cultivated mainly in the Indian subcontinent, in the Americas, Australia, South and Central Africa – generally, in areas with tropical and subtropical climates; in Europe, it is found in Spain and in the Canary Islands. Regarding the growth conditions, necessary a well-irigated soil is necessary, with a pH between 5.5-7.5, balanced temperatures ranging from 27 to 36 degrees Celsius, relative humidity and low winds. Harvesting is done after 3-6 months from the blossoming of the fruits grown on the coast (those grown in greenhouses mature faster).
CHEMICAL STRUCTURE AND USAGE
A good mango has a soft consistency, is round-shaped, with a strong-scented shank. The ”super fruit” has a variety of medical applications, resulted from its generous chemical composition. First of all, 100g have the energy value of 250kJ (60kcal). Mango is abundant in vitamins such as vitamin A (7%), C (44%) and B6 (9%), which help the strengthening of the immune system and prevent cancer, and digestive enzymes, with an important role in reducing gastric acidity. Vitamin A is beneficial for the eye health, 100g mango representing a quarter of the recommended daily allowance of this organic matter.
The fruit can be used as nourishment, but its flesh also has an important role in dermatology. Masks rich in vitamins determine the skin purification and the prevention of eczema. The iron content (1%) is beneficial to the people suffering from anaemia, for who the consumption of mango and other fruits with this particularity is highly recommended. Due to its alkalinity, mango regulates the pH level in the body, lowers blood pressure (4% Potassium), improves memory (Glutamic acid) and it is a good remedy for dehydration.
Boiled mango peels and seeds are commonly used in the Hindu traditional medicine, having an anti-diuretic effect. The antioxidant compounds in the peel strengthen the body’s resistance against diabetes and various forms of cancer. However, people with sensitivity to latex should avoid eating green mangoes because of their anacardic acid.They also contain in their peels chemicals similar to those in poisonous herbs (urushiol), which may cause strong allergic reactions. One can extract from the mango’s leaves a pigment called ”Indian yellow”.
CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE. SYMBOLISM
In the oriental culture, the mango fruit is associated with divinity, love and prosperity. In India, Pakistan and Philippines mango is the national fruit, whearas in Bangladesh the mango tree is a symbol of the state. It is used in the wedding ceremonies, and in the Hindu religion its flowers are brought as offerings to goddess Saraswati. Moreover, the Indian christians decorate the mango trees on holidays like Christmas and consider that a basket full of these fruits a symbol of friendship. In the Budhist religion, the mango tree is a symbol of spiritual enlightment.
A Filipino legend states that once there was a young girl named Perla, the daughter of Bae Rusing and Mang Ado. Her father wanted to marry her to a rich man called Pedro, despite her untold love for the farmer, Jose. The two got engaged in secret, but Mang Ado told Perla that the wedding between she and Pedro would happen the following day. In great suffering, she locked herself in her room, leaving her father the impression of her being overly-excited about the ceremony to come. However, Jose found out about the upcoming event, could not stand the idea and killed himself. The young girl was desperate and left her parents a letter, revealing the relationship with Jose and the intention of living forever with him in Heaven. She was found dead by her grieving father, and in the same night she appeared in his dream, telling him that she forgave him for what he had done and that in the garden he would find a golden heart-shaped fruit. This way, Mang Ado discovered a tree with the fruit in it. When the two parents held it in their hand, the fruit seemed to beat like their daughter’s heart. Ever since, the Filipiono parents always remember eating this fruit to avoid the mistake of Mang Ado and Bae Rusing and break their children’s hearts.
While Rabindranath Tagore has his poems inspired by the mango fruit, there are some customs and unsual facts about the ”king fruit”. For instance, in India there is the expression ”to go mango walk” , meaning to steal someone else’s mangoes. There are some cases in which a well-known company, Coca-Cola, produced a new beverage to compete with Frooti, the best-selling mango juice in India. The first harvest of mango in Australia is given to charity.
In the end, I shall expose an Indian raw-vegan dish, with sweet-sour flavour, frequently found in the Ayurvedic alternative medicine – Mango Chutney. Take a green unripe mango. After being washed and peeled, cut it into pieces and place them in the blender, where the mixture is added salt, sugar, cayenne pepper and coconut. Put oil in a saucepan and heat it, alongside with mustard seeds and cumin for about 10 seconds after the oil is hot. They are poured after cooling over the combination resulted from the blender and it can be served with various dishes.
As far as I am concerned, as I was a little girl, one of my favourite movies was ”Paulie”(1998), which tells the adventures of a talking parrot lost by his owner, a stuttered child named Marie. To convince Paulie to tell his story, Misha Belenkoff tricks it into talking by giving him ripe mango treats.
Since then, everytime I taste this fruit, I recall Paulie and the moments he called out with passion this fruit. Mango is part of my most wonderful childhood memories.