My sweet mango tree
Do you want to know why I love mango tree so much?
When you feel a bit stressed or depressed, what would you usually do? For me, when I was a kid, I usually sat down under the mango tree by my house. The lovely tree made a good companion for my younger days (but not anymore since I’m far away from it.) To anyone, a mango tree sounds simply ordinary, but to me it has a sentimental value. Let me tell you why.
As you know, Myanmar mango is the most popular fruit in our tropical land. The town I lived however is not in a tropical region, it was hilly and cold. That’s why the mango tree I had was very special to our family. Moreover, the tree was grown by my beloved grandfather. These two reasons together made me love the tree since I was very young.
There are so many types of mango in Myanmar such as Aung Din (ေအာင္ဒင္), Sein ta Lone (စိန္တလုံး), Ma Chit Su (မခ်စ္စု) and a lot more. With a wide range of its types, I’m not sure what type my tree was. But I for sure knew that its season began after the monsoon rain, around November, a typical mango season in our country.
When I was a kid, my mother usually told me not to play around the mango tree because she considered mango trees ‘royal’. In the olden days, the first mango of a certain tree used to be reserved exclusively for the king and queen. Because of such practice, this particular mindset about mango had been formed so. Basically I was told not to play around the mango tree because she saw it as a royal property. Anyway, I simply didn’t see it that way.
Speaking about a mango itself, a baby unripe one is green, small, tender, and very sour. It is edible whether it is ripe or unripe. My mother usually peeled and made it salad with traditional fish sauce, the perfect appetizer for us. She had many recipes for a green small one, too. Sometimes, she sliced it in half, rubbed it with salt and sundried it until it became dehydrated. Then she made spicy mango pickles which was one of my favorite.
When it turned ripe, the ways she prepared varied. To me, having a sweet mango as dessert by simply slicing or chopping it was the best recipe. Usually when I got home after school, she welcomed me with another recipe with thick natural syrup. The taste helped freshen me up. To me, as a kid, this kind of pure, natural taste and soothing aroma could only be found in my mother’s hand. I would be lying to say I was not spoiled by my mother’s choices of flavorful mango recipes. So literally there’s a kind of bond that I’ve had with mango and its tree. Whenever I see a mango tree, especially a large one, some memories will just start popping up in my mind.
Mangoes are so plentiful in Myanmar during its season. In fact, we can have mangoes all year round even in its off-season. Many methods of preservations vary from using brine, syrup, or even dehydrating and pickling them for items like jam, dehydrated mangoes and spicy pickles. With these variety of choices, I can never get enough of it as a mango lover.
And for this hot afternoon, a glass of mango shake doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all. Let’s go have some!
Aung Ph. Zaw