Wednesday, November 9, 2011
And how can you tell it's mango season here in Fortaleza? Easy... just walk the residential streets of the city for a few blocks, and look up from time to time into the foliage of the large shade trees that line the streets. It's hard to miss the bright yellow/orange kidney-shaped fruits dangling in the foliage canopy. They're all mangos - and all ready for plucking - ready, that is, if you can figure out a way to get 30 or 40 feet up into the tree to snag a couple.
But's there's an easier way to enjoy mango season than monkeying your way up a gigantic mango tree - just head for the local produce store or supermarket and you'll see huge bins of mangoes - usually at least four or five different varieties. All ready to eat and all getting cheaper by the day.
Mangoes grow almost everywhere in Brazil and when they're in season they're ubiquitous. In the trees, in shops and stores and on street vendors carts. Or even at stop lights - most intersections have fruit vendors who will sell a basket of fruit to you through the car window while you wait for the light to change, and these days, the basket is likely to be mangoes.
Brazil's mango crop is colossal. According to government statistics, Brazil produces about 825,000 tons of mangoes each year. Even considering that over 90% of the crop is consumed domestically in Brazil, the remaining 67,000 tons that are exported is enough to make Brazil the world's second-largest mango exporter, trailing only Mexico.
Just as strawberry addicts gorge themselves during strawberry season, or lovers of corn-on-the-cob make August meals that are just corn, corn and more corn, Brazilians love to indulge their taste for mangoes during the summer. Most of the mango crop is either eaten fresh or processed into juice, but there are many traditional Brazilian recipes that call for mangoes in one form or another. In the next couple of days, mangoes will be our focus here at Flavors of Brazil.