The mango tree originated in southeast Asia, where it still grows wildly. It was supposedly domesticated in India more than 4,000 years ago. It has always been a mythical tree and a symbol of Buddhism (apparently Buddha used to meditate in the shade of a mango tree), the reason for its popularity in Asia.
The name mango comes from the Portuguese manga, itself from man-gay or man-kay, the name of the fruit in Tamil, the language of southeast India.
It seems that it was actually the Portuguese, those great explorers, who spread mango kernels and plantations throughout Africa and South America in the 16th century. Before that, the mango was unknown outside Asia and no traces of this fruit have been found in ancient times or the Middle Ages.
In the 18th century, the English who had settled in India took the mango to Europe. The first crop in Florida and California dates back to the mid-19th century.
An impressive number of mango varieties have been developed, improving its flavor, which, in the past, occasionally had an unpleasant taste of turpentine. However, most mangoes are irradiated so that they can be stored for longer.
The color of a mango gives absolutely no indication of how ripe it is. Nevertheless, black spots mean that it is too ripe.
A good mango will be soft to the touch, but not too soft. Its fragrance is the best indicator of its quality.
If it is not yet ripe, it will ripen in a few days.
In addition to fresh whole mango, mango is also sold frozen, peeled and cut into slices or cubes, dried and sliced.
Mango can be quickly fried in a pan to create a sweet-and-sour accompaniment for meat or fish. It is a welcome addition to vegetable or fruit salads, and can be used to made sorbet and, of course, jam. It is included in fruit skewers, made into mousse, used to make pie, and goes well with many spices.
In Asian and Caribbean cuisine, green mangos are often cooked, sometimes marinated, in rougail, curries, chutneys, soups, and even salads.
In India, amchoor is a dried green mango powder used to add flavor to a variety of dishes.
Mango should be kept at room temperature. It does not keep well in a cold place.
Mango is extraordinarily rich in all kinds of antioxidants (carotenes and various polyphenols), making it one of the healthiest of all fruits. It also contains vitamin C, minerals, fibers, and carbohydrates. It contains almost no protein or fat.
Mango skin can sometimes cause an allergic reaction.
Mangos are produced in 70 tropical countries across all continents. There are hundreds of species.
The most exported varieties include the Ataulfo and the Kent (both without fibers), the Keitt (slightly fibrous), the Tommy Atkins (quite fragrant, fibrous, undamaged by transportation), and the Haden (quite fibrous and tastes of honey).
The Amelie mango has a slightly tangy, spicy flavor. The Cogshall (which comes from Réunion), when cut in half, can be easily separated from its stone. The Nam Dok Mai (Thailand) can taste like an orange or a peach, depending on how ripe it is.
Mangos are sold everywhere throughout the year.