Tag Archives: Mangoes; Mango Chow; Caribbean childhood

“Mangoes, Mangoes, Mangoes. Ah want a penny to buy…”

It is almost impossible to speak of things Caribbean and not dedicate a blog to MANGOES:) Perhaps with all fairness I should rename the post to be less discriminatory to the rest of the fruit family, but boy oh boy, I am sure you will agree that the mango holds a very special place all on its own. Being the creative people we are in the Caribbean, we have found all manner of uses for this delectable fruit. After greedily consuming at least three firm, ripe, juicy Julie mangoes from the tree in my garden today, I was instantaneously propelled down memory lane…

My first memory is from Georgetown and one that I find funny – now! I was at the standpipe early one morning and happened to be beneath a mango tree. A strong breeze blew and sent dozens of leaves dancing off their stems. I felt something fall into my bosom. Thinking it was a leaf, I brushed at it absentmindedly. A minute or two later, I was howling in pain and dancing beneath the tree. As it turned out, what I thought was a leaf was really a marabunta (jack spaniard/large stinging wasp – image borrowed from internet). That bite sent me at top speed up the front step, through the open door and in search of colgate toothpaste for the sting (long-time remedy and I have no proof whatsoever that it works)!

Earlier memories were more mischievous. I remember picking mangoes from just about any neighbour’s yard – this was not considered preadial larceny at the time, but more a healthy activity to keep the neighbourhood children occupied! The process of picking could be as simple as using a long stick to hit the mangoes down, as challenging as making it up and down the trunk of the tree without landing on your rear or as complicated as launching a big stone with army-like accuracy at a waiting bunch whilst avoiding anything breakable in an adjoining yard. Once successful, this was followed by squabbles for who would get the best looking mango. The ultimate reward was the taste of sweet juice and fleshy insides. Not one drop was wasted including the little trickle down the arm. The seeds were not immediately discarded as they could be put to use in a pelting competition that instantly sent all dogs & cats in hiding (again the ignorance of childhood).

Later memories in Trinbago are of the incomparable mango chow! If you don’t know what this is, trust me yuh missing part of your life! A chow is a delectable mixture of slices of half-ripe mangoes seasoned with salt, hot pepper/ pepper sauce, chopped garlic, shadon beni, lime juice, eschallot (chives/green onions). Mix together well, leave to “soak iiinnn” for a bit and then enjoy! (Image borrowed from the internet) Usually while enjoying I can faintly hear my granny’s voice saying I will either get “colic” or “bilious”. Ah well, thank goodness for senna pods and/or salts – a topic perhaphs for another post:)

The memories are endless. I would be interested in hearing some of yours.