The Fascinating Taxonomy Of Belize’s Favourite And Most Fetishized Fruit
At this time of the year - after the first rains – it’s a mango lovers’ feast, a veritable festival of flavours. But, in Belize, a mango is more than just a fruit – it’s like what snowflakes are to Eskimos: they have a thousand words for snow – and, if that’s true, Belizeans must have a thousand names for different kinds of mangos!
Of course, there are the well-known staples: Number 11, Slippers, and the ever popular Black Mangoes. But did you know about the obscure Tommy Hawkey, the buff Big Ben, the exotic Cambodiamas, cousins Sandy Shaw and Tanga Shaw, or the rare Gold mango? Well, I didn’t – and today I went to the market for an education in the fascinating taxonomy of Belize’s favourite and most fetishised fruit:…
Courtney Weatherburne Reporting....
With the mango season in full swing, walking through the market is like going through a garden of a thousand lights, each mango with it's own look
and flavour. For the uninitiated, these are just mangoes but for the connoisseur of this succulent fruit, each mango has a story of its own.
That story begins here: with these small green and yellow spotted mangoes spread across a wooden stand to these full crimson coloured ones –
stacked and piled in crates and boxes ready for sale.
Others are packed in buckets and are sold from a bicycle
While others line the street side.
It’s a feast for mango lovers out here, and while these fruits are visually appealing, there is another world beneath the skin.
Herere Dominguez - Mango Vendor, selling for 32 years
"Gold mango, very sweet to eat, sweater than number 11."
"So which one would you say is the sweetest mango out of all of them?"
"Black mango but some people like more - the 11."
"Which one sells more for you?"
"Number 11 and black mango. The black mango and the number 11 are the best."
"How about the gold mango, tell us about the texture. How do you know it's gold mango?"
"Well on the Mexican side they say it's gold mango, so when we came here they said that it's the same. Because the Mexican ones are just like these
ones - only because these are green and these done ripe already."
These are just a few of many types of mangoes available on the local market.
Robertina Carrillo - Mango Vendor
"You have the manila, camboyanas, lovely mango are those. And hayden, tomihakee, number 11 and black mango."
Robert Lightburn - Mango Vendor
"The pretty big ones there are bombay, those are from India. This next one is the cambodiama - this is good because it would drop and they don't bruise
or anything. And their very sweet, they don't have any hair. I think it's about the nicest mango we have right now."
And the list goes on, but the variety of mangoes isn’t the issue, the dispute lies in the smell and sweetness of the mango.
Robertina Carrillo - Mango Vendor
"Oh the number 11 and the black mango."
"People like those the most?"
"Why? Because their sweeter than the others?"
"Yes, they're sweeter"
"What is your favourite?"
"The number 11."
"Which type of mango would you say sell the quickest and is the sweetest?"
Mario Chan - 50 years old Mango Vendor
"Common sells too, blue mango, black mango, number 11 that sell more fast."
"So you know a Mango by the smell and the look of it right?"
"Yes, when the mango ripe, it smells nice and it's sweet."
"Most of the mangoes are like that, right? When they're ripe they have a nice sweet smell."
"Yes, the blue mango all the people like it, from Orange Walk to Belize. Then they one from Dangriga like the blue mango."
Ana Cowo - Mango Vendor
"This the manilla mango, this one has a flat seed and mostly meat. Now this is the hayden, everybody know this hayden mango in Belize. This is the nice
mango, the hayden mango. This fleshy too. This one is the slippers mango. This one is not really - lot of people don't really know about this one but
this one have a flat seed but it's not so sweet. It has a little sour sweetish taste in it. The cambodiama have a higher scent for the varieties I have
right now. So the cambodiama have a higher scent and then the number 11 has high scent but I don't have none right. But this is the on that have the
highest scent, cambodiama."
Maria Cowo - Mango Vendor
"There is a lot of type of mango but the only kind I have is the hayden mango and the black mango and the apple mango. But the one that sells more is
the black mango and the apple mango, people like it."
While the vendors have their favourites and method of figuring out which mango is which, these mango lovers have their preference in taste.
Lovenia Anderson - Mango Lover
"My favourite mangoes are number 11, black mangoes and blue mangoes."
"Why are those you're favourite?"
"They are my favourite because that is what I grew up on. I have no other choice, I don't know anything else about any other mangoes."
"Tell us more about the taste, the flavour of the black mango. Why is it tasty to you?"
"The taste of the black mango is smooth, it's sweet, it doesn't leave hair in your teeth. Like wise the blue mango and the number 11."
Agnes Rhaburn - Mango Shopper
"I know about the black mango, the air mango."
"Tell us about that air mango."
"Air mango is a big mango, have very little hair, it's mostly smooth. I rather eat it when it just turn, I don't want it when it's really ripe."
"Is the air mango your favourite? What is your story behind the air mango?"
"I have no story behind it, all I know it's a mango that I'm use to and I love it because of the texture of it."
“Teddy Bear” - Mango Shopper
"You have big mango, small mango, black mango, hairy mango, air mango, julie mango but some people don't fuss with side. They one have they call the
big ben, I don't know if you ever see that one. You can't bite he, you have to slice he and eat he. That is my favourite one because I like it big."
Kevin Campbell - Mango Buyer
"I enjoy this particular type of mango, number 11 mango because my foster mother loved this. She's dead and gone, god rest her soul - but I still eat
it because of her. Number 11 and it's the best mango that you can find in Belize."
"Why is it the best mango, tell us about the texture and flavour."
"The flavour, it's so sweet. You could make - my son just did a smoothie for fair at his school and this is the mango that I bought for him. And he
sold out, so number 11 - the texture is rich, it's no sweet, natural sugar. Then you have the hairy mango as well. It's a little bit sour. Then you
have the larger ones that you could slice up for dessert etc. Belize, mangoes, this is the time for mangoes."
Most regular mangoes sell for about 5 for a dollar – the exotic and rare ones will cost a little more.