Mango trees belong to the family of fruit-bearing trees that grow in the tropics and bear edible fruits. Mangifera indica, as the mango is scientifically called, is a native of South Asia but is now being grown in different parts of the globe.
In terms of taste, mangoes could very well be among the most delicious fruits. The flesh of the ripe mango is golden-hued, and is very fragrant, sweet and juicy when eaten. Many describe its taste as a cross between a peach and an apricot, with a texture that is dense yet silky. Not surprisingly, it is recognized as the world’s most popular fruit. Considering its popularity, it would be worth your while to know more about the mango with these facts:
- The mango’s name has its origins in the Tamil word “man-kay” or “man-gay.” The Malays later changed the name to “manga;” but it was the Portuguese who first referred to the fruit as “mango.”
- Mangoes have a very ancient history. They were first cultivated in India as far back as 6,000 years ago. Buddhist monks who travelled to Malaysia and East Asia around 500 B.C. brought with them seeds of the mango tree. Persian traders likewise brought mangoes to the Middle East and Africa; and the Portuguese introduced them to Brazil. Their cultivation in North America is relatively recent, as mango cultivars arrived in Florida and California only in the 1800’s.
- India is the biggest producer of mangoes. Almost half of the mangoes being consumed today come from the country. Every year, more than 16 million tons of mangoes are harvested in India.
- Mango trees live and stay productive for a very long time. Some have been known to bear fruit even after 300 years.
- There are more than 400 varieties of mangoes. The fruits come in different colors that include yellow, green, orange and red, with sizes that range from 5-15 centimeters long and 4-10 centimeters wide. The largest mango recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records measured 30 centimeters long and 17 centimeters wide.
- Mangoes are highly revered in Indian culture. According to legend, Buddha liked to meditate in a grove of mango trees. In India, the mango is a symbol of love. Hanging fresh mango leaves on the front door during the Hindu New Year is believed to bring blessings.
- Although the mango is still regarded as an exotic fruit in the Western world, it is a staple in many Asian and Latin American diets.
- Mango is very versatile as a culinary ingredient. It can be mixed with yoghurt and milk to make a perfect drink, made into desserts, or added into salads, salsas or chutneys to accompany meat dishes.
- Mangoes can still be enjoyed even when unripe. Thais like to snack on green mangoes dipped in a mixture salt, sugar and chili powder. Filipinos prefer sour mangoes with either soy sauce or salt. Green mangoes are also perfect additions to salads and pickles.
- Very recent studies indicate that mangoes boost the effect of marijuana on the body. Myrcene, the chemical which gives mangoes its distinct aroma, contains the organic compound, terpene. It is this compound that interacts with the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, increasing the drug’s potency and effect.