The Mangoes We Ate in Jamaica
I am now going to give you the names of the mangoes we ate during the summers that we traversed the stony paths and eroded farm roads that meandered over the dusty ridges and across the tree lined gullies in the hills of central Jamaica some four decades past.
You need to understand that we ate these mangoes because we had no choice. We were hungry and thirsty and our parents hadn’t enough money to sponsor our huge appetite at that age. So we reaped the seasonal crops along the public way just like in bible days. So long as you did not fill a bag or overindulge you could eat from a farmer’s mango walk, citrus orchard, or sugar cane field without any problem. Just keep moving and be polite. And don’t make a practice of it. Go home hungry man, dinner is waiting!
Now that you understand the general context let me share with you some of the mostly sweet, syrupy, yellow mangoes we enjoyed.
1. Common Mango or Stringy was the most common (hence the name). The abundant supply meant that you eat from the trees that were the sweetest or had the best flavour. Common mango will give you that belly full feeling quickly because it is not as stringy as its alias would suggest.
2. Banana Mango was smaller but had a more exotic flavour. A rare mango. In my time only one family cultivated it but they never objected to us going to their farm to enjoy it.
3. Millie mango is long and stringy. But is the sweetest mango except for Sweetie Come Brush Me. Millie mango is grown commercially by farmers and sold by their wives in the markets. It took a long time for my family to finally plant some trees, and they are there today for villagers and travellers to enjoy.
4. Sweetie Come Brush me is a rare variety and is the sweetest mango in Jamaica. It is hairy and has very little juice. My entire district had but one tree.
5. Number Eleven was popular but not always very sweet. It has a unique smell and flavour, but must be eaten at an optimum time in the mango season. Too early and the taste is off. And most of the time the fruits were infested with the larva of some insect or the other.
6. Blackie or Black mango had a very dark green skin but nothing else that I could see to recommend the name. It was sweeter than Common Mango but nothing near Millie.
7. Fine Skin Mango grew in abundance on a hill we called Monday Hill. You could go on a farm there and eat a belly full. The peel was thin, and the fruit quite delicious but slightly cloying.
8. Sour mango was used to feed hogs, but if you felt adventurous or very hungry you took your chance.
9. My uncle who lived near Pindar’s River had a few Turpentine Mango trees nearby his home. The fruit had reddish to purple tinged exterior and yes, a mild turpentine flavour.