It really wasn’t very satisfactory to have written about mangoes yesterday without being able to identify either of the varieties that were given to my husband by our generous and hospitable friend in the countryside.
So I spent some time today in an upscale supermarket where you can find organic fruit and veg (at a fairly terrible price, way beyond the pocket of most people, but then that’s the story of organic in many countries). The idea was to see what sort of selection they would have on offer.
It turned out the really huge mangoes we were given, those glorious red and orange beasts, are named “Tommy” – which I presume are the cultivar “Tommy Atkins” from the United States. I’m fairly sure the smaller variety are “Owais” – beautiful, but extremely sweet. Much smaller than these are some I found in the supermarket, named “Fass Owais” or “Segment of Owais” rather as in “Son of…” All three are pictured below.
So I bought some of the “Fass Owais”, terribly expensive at EGP 50 a kilo(!!) and we tried them: with buttery, smooth flesh, sweet but not cloying, and with a stone that is much smaller and thinner than most mangoes, they were a real treat.
Also stocked by the supermarket: another variety of generous dimensions, “Naomi”. More green than orange, with a red blush, these were sourced from an organic grower, Desert Lake Farms on the Cairo-Alex desert road. In recent decades vast swathes of land have been reclaimed in the area north-west of Cairo for cultivation, including by organic farmers such as Wadi and the Desert Lake company.
Lastly, I found “Sadiqa” (“Friend”) – medium sized, elongated and with mostly green skins.
I have saved testing the last two cultivars for another day, running the risk that the season will have ended before I get round to buying them. But there’s always another year.
As for our own mango tree: it’s a young one, too junior to bear fruit. It’s also planted too close to the hedge for comfort. Even though ours is a relatively compact cultivar known as “Keet” or “Keit”, we couldn’t find another spot: I hope it will thrive.
The young leaves are reddish and soft, contrasting prettily with the older green leaves; with the glowing colours of the fruit, mangoes are beautiful trees – always provided you keep them to a manageable height and spread.