Brian Viner: 'Honey mangoes lend a jauntily cosmopolitan air to a chap's pantry'

Home And Away

Share
Related Topics

Which fruit features in more jokes than any other? You'd think it would be bananas, which are inherently comical, but actually it's mangoes, as in "a man goes into a pub with a parrot on his shoulder etc..." Now I know that's beyond limp, but at least it's got you thinking about mangoes, which have been much on my own mind recently.

It all started last week while I was staying in London SW19 with my sister-in-law Jackie and brother-in-law Tony, reporting on the tennis. I hope Tony won't mind me describing him as a man who never knowingly under-enthuses about something that has impressed him, be it a book, a play, a person or indeed a fruit. This makes him the perfect recipient of a glass of the 1989 Vouvray you've been saving for a special occasion, for example, because he will give it the extravagant rhapsodies it manifestly deserves. On the other hand, it does mean that one needs to treat with circumspection some of his tips, as I did last week when he raved about the mangoes he had bought at Brixton market, describing them as "heaven" and assuring me that I would never want to taste any other kind of mango, or possibly any other kind of anything, ever again.

It was asparagus that got us onto the subject of mangoes. We were talking about the short season of English asparagus – which I know all about because the stubby spears in my asparagus bed are now metre-long fronds – and Tony said that he had recently been introduced, by his friend Philip, to a particular variety of the Pakistani honey mango that only has a four-week season and is preternaturally sweet and succulent.

Not only that, but at Brixton market they are sold in the colourful boxes in which they have been air-freighted, lending a jauntily cosmopolitan air to a chap's pantry. Last Friday Tony told me that Philip was going to the market that very day for his regular mango fix, and so, forgetting my circumspection, I asked if he could get me a box. It felt excitingly illicit, arranging for my brother-in-law's supplier to include me in his latest score from the fields of Pakistan via the mean streets of Brixton, and certainly Tony had talked about the mangoes as if they had hallucinogenic properties. He even advised me on the best way to eat them. It is iredeemably suburban, apparently, to peel a mango. And forget the tired old advice that you should do it in the bath. Instead, the seasoned mango addict rolls his fruit vigorously on a flat surface, then cuts off the tip and sucks out the liquidised flesh. Crack mango, if you like.

Anyway, since I was going straight home to Herefordshire after Saturday's play at Wimbledon, I had to take my £3.50 box of six honey mangoes with me to the All England Club, where my bag was routinely searched on arrival. The friendly young security guard looked up at me quizzically as she found the exotic box. "Mangoes," I said. "Oooh lovely," she said. There's something charmingly genteel about the security check at Wimbledon. I'm sure that even if they found a high-powered rifle you could tell them that you'd just come from a game shoot on your uncle's estate in the Chilterns.

By the time I got home with the mangoes, at 10.30 that night, I was worried that their journey on a hot, sweaty Tube to Euston, then a hot, sweaty train to Birmingham, then in the boot of the car, might have taken its toll. But on Sunday we tried them, and the family consensus was that Tony had not been exaggerating their delights. The Pakistani honey actually looks more like the papaya than the Co-op mango, and is indeed gorgeously sweet, without that fibrous texture that you sometimes find. Yesterday I had the last one all to myself, and decided to go native, following Tony's advice. It was a triumph, apart from when I sucked too hard and the stone shot out and hit the back of my throat with the velocity, not inappropriately, of a tennis ball served by Serena Williams.

Once Jane had successfully implemented the Heimlich manoeuvre I texted Tony and told him that he'd converted us all to the pleasures of the Pakistani honey mango, and also that I'd tried the rolling and hard-sucking strategy. He texted me straight back. "You're a braver man than me," he said.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

General Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station  

General Election 2015: Despite all the seeming cynicism, our political system works

Ian Birrell
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living