If you're into mangoes, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden's annual International Mango Festival is kind of a big deal. This ode to the fleshy tropical fruit is mango-mania for the general public, but the Grower's Summit portion of the affair is exponentially more intense.
The pre-festival summit brings mango growers from across the globe together to share knowledge and get schooled. This year's event brought folks from Texas, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Thailand, Haiti and lots of other locales to the grounds of Fairchild last Friday.
We popped in and got a chance to check out the oodles of mangoes on display, taste some special varieties and learn a little about some lesser-known varieties from the experts and growers. Check out our newfound mango knowledge:
Each mango varietal has a unique name, ranging from the cutesy (Coconut Cream) to the technical (Z40-17). Here are six we got to sample:
The orange fruit of this mini-mango peeks through its dark brown skin like the creamy center of a chocolate egg. The juicy, oval treats were tough to eat, so we basically gnawed on them like a turkey leg. They taste like the lovechild of lychee and passion fruit.
This pale yellow, Indian-born mango was served green -- a common tradition in Colombia (the festival's tribute country this year). Paired with hot sauce, it offered a crunchy, slightly salty snack without the usual mango sweetness. "It's eaten like a vegetable," said Noris Ledesma, one of Fairchild's curators of tropical fruit. Speaking of the mango's ubiquitous nature in both Colombia and India, she said: "Like a potato, it's used for everything, not just dessert."
The flesh of this mango is deep yellow and orange, and offers a more traditional, heavily sweet flavor. Ledesma pegs this a "fancy" mango, to be eaten from a bowl, with a spoon while dressed in your Sunday best.
A hybrid between Indian varieties Neelum and Dasheri, this rich mango has a taste similar to papaya. Ledesma likens it to the extremely popular Indian mango, Alphonso, often dubbed "the king of mangoes." It's easier to grow in South Florida than Alphonso, however, and not as expensive.
This sweet, Indian dessert mango with yellow-hued flesh and a lightly spotted green skin has a custardy flavor about it.
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Another round, egg-shaped mango, this green-skinned fruit is tangy and almost sour, with an apricot flavor. Its tanginess is a drastic difference from the similarly-sized Casturi.
If there's one thing we learned from this weekend's mango-pia, it's that there's bound to be a variety for you. Be it Provost, Martian Pride or Neldika, your mango soulmate is out there somewhere.