Sunday 5 July, 2020

There is mango mania in Cayman!

Before I took my first trip, I asked a friend if there were mangoes in Cayman. My question was met with raucous and almost insulting laughter to which she responded, “Of course we have mango! So much mango we can use it fi stone dawg.” My friend was wrong to suggest that we should commit any act of animal cruelty; however, she was spot on with regards to the abundance and variety of one of my favourite fruits.

Cayman is knee-deep into mango season which usually runs from early May to June and July; every mango tree seems to be overflowing with juicy fruit.  As a mango lover with sophisticated taste buds honed in none other than Jamaica, I haven’t missed a beat in Cayman when it comes to the variety of mangos that I recognize. In backyards throughout these islands, I have observed the aromatic East Indian, the juicy Number 11, the annoying Hairy and dare I say it, the sexy Julie aka my favourite.

Mangoes are rich in vitamins and nutrients and the variety of textures and flavours make them a very versatile food. Throughout the Caribbean, mangoes are used for jams, jellies, filling for pastries and crust for baking. Curried mangoes and mangoes marinated in spices and vinegar are popular in Cayman, Jamaica and Trinidad.

Mangoes have enjoyed some time in the spotlight lately. Nearly one year ago to the day, the Philippines experienced a massive surplus in mangoes; 2 million kilos in excess to be exact, due to a disruption in weather patterns. The Filipino Government launched a high profile campaign to sell 1 million kilograms of mangoes by the end of June 2019. The feverish campaign included mango recipe competitions encouraging citizens to become “mangopreneurs.”

As surprised as I am that I wasn’t the first person to coin the term “mangopreneur,” I was just as surprised to recognize that Cayman might be experiencing a similar "problem." Everywhere you go there are fowls enjoying the remains of sticky orange fruit that exploded on contact with the hard ground; neighbours are donating mangoes to one another and Meals on Wheels have indicated that they have been benefiting from the surplus.

Watching people filling baskets, bags and boxes of fresh fruit brings a smile to my face.

A bountiful mango season in Cayman also means extra dollars for both farmers and folks with mango trees in their yards. From in front of their homes to the side of the road to grocery stores and the farmers market, Caymanians are capitalizing on this year’s harvest.

Listen carefully through the month of June, “when a mango drops “BOOF it could also sound like KA-CHING!”

Bright yellow and orange, green and purple fruit hanging from branches across these islands are more than just a pleasant sight to behold and mean more to me than the possibility of earning a few extra dollars. The bountiful harvest has yielded so much more than the most delicious sweet yet tangy flavours. 

In the age of COVID-19, signs of new life and nature thriving bring hope-- and where there is hope, there is life. As we emerge from months of mobility restrictions we must be grateful for life-- our lives and the lives around us that have been spared through this pandemic as well as the natural life that sustains us on these beautiful islands.

For me, mangoes are life.

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