I have never liked mangoes.
I’ll give you a moment to gasp in disbelief, let your jaw gape open, and let the question form on your tongue as it does to everyone I meet: How can you not like mangoes?
I’m not that hot about pineapple either. Or watermelon. Or guava, papaya, banana, or, really, anything tropical. I am a mountain berry person. If it is purple, like figs, plums, blackberries, or grapes, I will probably love it. If it requires reaching into a thorny bush and often ascribes to the “one in the hand, two in mouth” method of harvesting, then I will surely enjoy it.
But I don’t enjoy mangoes, and I can never really place what it is about them I dislike. I guess there’s just something…pale…about the flavor. Something kind of mealy, or bland…and before you launch into the second comment I know is coming (“Oh, that’s because you haven’t had ripe/green/Thai/my grandmother’s mangoes” – the same statement I always get when I admit that I like neither mashed potatoes nor meatloaf), no, it’s not that. I’ve tried them several times, in different ways, even through introduction by mango experts. And I’ve had to come to the painful conclusion that I just don’t like them.
…until the Philippines.
Maybe it’s the sheer volume and proliferation of mango and mango-related paraphernalia. I found myself being served various mango dishes against my better judgment, and, while I could hardly say I found them disgusting, I wouldn’t particularly say I enjoyed them. One day, I was served an entire mango for breakfast, and, seeing the lack of other options on my table, reluctantly took a spoon and began to carve out tiny curls of soft orange flesh.
…and then the whole thing was gone.
And a few days later, I found myself thinking about the mango again.
I even thought about buying one. What’s going on here?
I finally caved and bought two. Yellow ones, with voluptuous velvety insides and sweet juicy flavor. I couldn’t resist. Before I even realized what had happened, I had sliced them both open and devoured the insides.
Now I find myself constantly purchasing mangoes. I’m no fanatic, but I would say I eat them on a regular basis, and always seem to surprise myself – “Hey, I’m eating a mango!”. Sure, this wouldn’t be the first time my tastes have changed (ahem…olives, raisins, broccoli…), but it never ceases to amaze me how subtly the mango crept up on me and took me by surprise, spoon in my mouth.
Oh, the mighty mango, a joy to behold. Now if only I could get over balut*…
*A Filipino favorite, balut are mostly-formed duck eggs. In other words, while still an egg, there is also a beak, and wings, and…well, you get the picture. I’ll stick with mango.