Summer here is hot and humid--kind of gross. It's the start of hurricane season (groan). However, it's also tropical fruit season. Right in our back yard grows a Seuss-ian wonderland of fruits like monstera deliciosa and white sapote. Perhaps none of these fruits inspires as much obsession as the mango.
The summer's mango mania reaches its crescendo this weekend with the annual International Mango Festival at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Backyard growers, food fanatics, farmers and fruit hunters from around the world gather to bask in the resplendent red-orange glow of hundreds of fruit, talk shop and buy new plants.
There's always a different theme--this year's is Mexico--but each year tropical fruit curators Richard Campbell and Noris Ledesma create a sprawling display of mangoes from around the world, grown at Fairchild's farm in the Redland. There's also a mango brunch, a mango tasting and a mango auction. Even if you don't bid on mangoes at the auction, it's fun to listen to Ledesma and Campbell tell stories of world mango exploration.
Watch this video of a luau at 2011's Hawaii-themed festival to see that impressive mango display. The video includes a cameo by actor and tropical-fruit-obsessive, Bill Pullman, who was filming part of the documentary, The Fruit Hunters (which makes its South Florida premiere during the festival). Bhaskar Savani, an Philadelphia dentist, talks about how he helped lift the ban on the import of Indian mangoes.
It's been an unusual backyard mango season, so if you've not yet touched your lips to the bright yellow-orange flesh of this fruit, you should mark your calendar for this weekend's mango festival at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
Special thanks to Brad Bryan for video and editing and to David Samayoa for stills.