Being on a health kick of late, there’s a lot of fruit on the menu. I’m pretty good with that as a concept, particularly because we have so much good fruit available. Forget the sad cut fruit on your hotel’s breakfast buffet – there’s a world of fantastic fruit available in Thailand.
I don’t know about you, but mangos are pretty much at the top of my list. I know things have changed in Australia, where mangoes were once only a special Christmastime treat, but Thailand takes that extended season further, and we have them pretty much year-round. Thailand apparently produces more than two million tons of mangoes annually, and I’m doing my best to keep that number up.
You’d think that’d make me sick of them, but I am genuinely happy to eat mango every day. There’s a little market in the mornings on the Lumpini corner where our local restaurant sets up for the evenings, and a vendor there usually has two choices of mango – a sweet one, probably the local Nam Dok Mai variety, and a green one for salads.
The supermarket often has a wider choice of the local elongated varieties, some of them more than a kilo each! A smaller one that’s in season now is a hybrid between a Sunset and a local Thai variety that goes by Maha Chanok. They smell so sweet that it is like having a bouquet of flowers in the house, and worth it for that alone, which is good, because the better half reckons the taste is not that great and they’re a little stringy.
Another one with a super sweet aroma led me through the market by my nose to what looked like a Bowen mango, but instead one that goes by the rather romantic name R2E2. You could assume it was cultivated by a Star Wars fan, but apparently it was from Row 2 Experiment 2 at the Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Bowen research station.
It’s one of those rounded plump mangoes, with non-stringy, sweet and flavourful flesh. Amazing the difference from the slightly tarter local varieties. When I found a grafted R2E2 tree at a market in Samui last year I snapped it up.
And there’s another reason to love mangoes: while everything else in the garden is shriveling up after a month without rain, the mangoes are powering ahead. They seriously look as though they’re dormant for most of the year, and then when the conditions get hot and dry, shazam: loads of fresh growth. Love it.
I’m obviously a few years away from picking my own fruit, and am experimenting with sprouting some other seeds in the meantime, but hopefully one day in the near future I’ll have a nice extended home-grown mango season. In the meantime, it’s not as though I’m starving.