Mangos Ace

Many of the world's fruitlovers (including your humble scribe) think mangoes are the most luscious and desirable of all things edible. So, apparently, does Martina Navrátilová, "the greatest women's tennis player in the history of the sport."

Martina, now 46, reportedly said her main reason for having visited Australia from her U.S. home was for the mangoes, rather than for the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne. "I love mangoes, that's why I'm here," she said.

She was delighted to receive a gift box of North Queensland mangoes from grower Henry Petersen. Martina, who knows how to score valuable points, added "Last time I was here in 1985 I mentioned that I liked a certain wine and it was sent to me."

The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas is enthusiastic about Marvelous Mangoes from Sunny Mexico. "Mango-lovers become much more passionate over their delight in the fruit than, for example, apple-lovers or banana-lovers," it says. "There are many reasons. Sometimes it's because a mango reminds them of a special vacation. For others, they simply enjoy something a bit different from typical fruits. Whatever the reason, mango-lovers aren't shy about proclaiming their pleasure."

We were dismayed to learn that in Australia's Northern Territory more than a million dollars worth of mangoes were left to rot on trees because of a shortage of pickers and packers.

In Australia, mangoes have traditionally been eaten as a dessert fruit, when they are soft and ripe. Kensington Pride, the most popular variety grown in Australia, was first discovered in Bowen, north Queensland, more than a century ago, and is thought to have originated as a seed imported from India.

In recent years the consumption of hard green, mature mangoes in traditional Asian cuisine has increased, resulting in the development of a significant niche market. says Ian S. E. Bally, a Queensland Horticulture Institute expert based in Mareeba.

Green eating mangoes, he says, can be served in several ways. They can be sliced or grated fresh in salads, pickled (ma mung dong in Thai), soaked in water and sugar (ma mung chaein), salted and dried (ma mung khem), sliced in vinegar or fish sauces (ma mung nam pla wa arn), or eaten as a fruit.