High flying mango harvest in Hawaii

Mangos are in season in Hawaii, which means humans and birds race one another for the ripest fruit. When the mango tree is several stories high, though, birds have a natural advantage.

One inventive man had a small canvas bag attached to a really long pole. He reached up to grab one plump, rose-tinted fruit at a time, handing it down to his waiting wife. This approach allowed him to reach just over half way up an enormous mango tree. It was also a slow process, given the bounty of that tree. He was able to carefully remove three mangos in the time it took me to walk past on my journey a week ago. I wondered how in the world he would reach the very top of the tree.

He didn’t. Last week as I approached, I could see very red ripe mangos crowning the tree. As I got closer, I could smell a pile of mangos that had dropped at the foot of the tree and lay fermenting. Apparently, this one tree produced too much fruit for humans and birds together to dispose of — although I did wonder if the birds were just waiting for the mangoes to turn into wine before they finished them off. I could imagine the birds staggering around the tree roots having their own tiny block party.

Before I moved to Hawaii, mangoes were an exotic luxury — now they’re often left in the office for the taking. I never did figure out how to eat a really ripe one without making a mess, though. That is why the advice given in the Hawaii Farm Bureau cookbook amuses me so much. After giving detailed instructions about how to cut a mango in neat cubes, it concludes “Or you can just peel and cut random pieces off the pit. Then stand over the sink eating the remaining flesh off the pit and let the juice stream down your face.”

That’s always been my approach.

(“The Hawaii Farmers Market Cookbook: Fresh Island Products from A to Z,“ Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation (2006))

Posted by: Bruce Fisher