Friday, February 18, 2011

Current Craving: Mango Juice

Oh, for a tall glass of freshly squeezed juice from perfectly ripened mangoes.

Better yet, a whole pitcher of fresh, ripe mango juice. Definitely not available in Boston in February, or perhaps ever. Mangoes like to ripen on their tree, and I've never had a good one in New England.

I've been craving mango juice since Sunday, when a glass of sour, watery pineapple juice at an otherwise tasty brunch got me thinking. And wishing.

Long ago, I knew an Indian grad student at MIT who was shy until he got on the subject of mangoes. Then he would wax eloquent about how he pined for ripe mangoes, how splendid they were at home, plucked from his family's grove — and how completely disappointing they are over here, because they are harvested and shipped when they are green and can't ripen properly. He gave quiet, passionate monologues on the subject during almost every meal we shared with our mutual friends. I don't remember him talking about anything else, certainly not about whatever rarified subject he was studying.

When I met him, I barely knew the difference between a mango and a kumquat. But it didn't take him long to convince us that mangoes were glorious and that he was suffering. Soon we were all wishing for fresh, ripe mangoes, for him, for us. But since nobody else had ever tasted one, we couldn't truly sympathize.

Years later, I visited Egypt, tasted ripe mangoes and drank their juice whenever possible. Finally, I understood what that Indian student was talking about. I realize now that, during all these weeks of Egyptian turmoil, the memory of mango juice has lingered in the back of my mind as I've watched and read the news, and heard from friends over there. Friends who, when not advocating for democracy, can enjoy a decent glass of mango juice whenever they want.

I guess I'll settle for a mango passion smoothie from Boloco later this afternoon. I might even pick up some frozen sliced mangoes or mango sorbet from Trader Joe's. But I'm certain that nothing will hit the spot.

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