The Mango Chronicles

This Spring left many growers wondering about their mango crop. Rains from the year prior hadn’t given the trees their fill. As we commenced harvests though, nature showed, yet again, she had plenty to offer.

For us, the season carries a short, intense, and sweet high. This year we brought nearly 3000 kilos of the sweet one to the city. Over the span of 3 weeks, you shared it with friends, family, loved ones. The stories, as always, kept us going… The lady who checked-in on mangoes in March, refusing to buy any for her mum until ours were ready 2 months later. The friend whose baby weaned with mango, gleaming eyes and mango-stained grinning face. Sundays that the boys joined us to unload crates, ending up more busy feeding crows baby mango. The even younger, whom, overwhelmed, gathered more mangoes than their arms could hold, dropping one each time they added another to their bounty, to leave only after putting the mangoes to sleep in their bed of hay. The principal who continues to share the fruit with all that cross her path, her job she says, is to spread the sweetness – we think she adds in her own. The flower seller on the street who shared the year before story, “didi, gaye saal mein itna aam tha, humne gaon leke sabh baccho ko khilaya” (sister, last year there was so much mango, we took it to our village and fed all the kids). The lady who, out of the ICU, is healing herself with mango. The gentleman, who starts his family’s morning with a mango smoothie preparation… he peels each mango with his hands. You all echoed the simple bottom line.. We’ve had much mango this season, but these… They’re something else.

We learned actions do create waves. Each year we share produce with kids on the streets, one kiddo summing it up, “didi, aam sabh ko milna chahiye na” (sister, everyone should get mango no) This year we learned of other mango santas in our area! So, we found new hands to share with… families living under obscure bridges, rag gatherers, pan/bidi sellers, mogra girls, drug rehab boys.In their being, I was reminded of Hapus’ seductive aroma and flavour, Kesar’s nonchalance being second in name, Batli’s nonfibrous, firm and bold presence. Totapuri, whose sweet and sour remains sought out by a few. The Dasseri, small and unobtrusive, but carrying its own. The Rajapuri, who continues its reign as the juice-giant. And the Sindhu, with it’s end-season presence, leaving us with an intensely sweet lingering mouthful.
Thanks for being a part of our season. And as our jedi mascot seems to say… May The Sweet Force be with You.
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May the Sweet Force be with You

 

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Tom-a-toe-ing?

We’re up to our toes, nay, neck in tomato!

Earlier this fall, Sandra transformed our world with her seed collection, sharing over 20 of the 150 tomato species she grows!  Needless to say, it’s much of what we’re thinking about these days.

As for the fruit masquerading as a veggie… stay tuned!

Amazing Encounters in Food – II

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Farmers Market in a mountain village town

Can a simple relation of good food and man exist, even today?

A recent visit to a small community in the east of France proved it does! Made up of vibrant farmers Sandra, Blanchette and Yves, and bread-makers Nadine and Polo…

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Sandra, the radiant tomato farmer

Sandra nurtures over 150 varieties of tomatoes in her garden, as also herbs and flowers.

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Yves with his produce

Blanchette and Yves grow all sorts of seasonal vegetables, and when asked, What do you do with your left over produce (from a market)? Blanchette replied with full and sturdy eyes… Nothing is left over.

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Nadiene and Polo, bakers with ancient and natural grain

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Sandra in her tomato garden

Nadine and Polo offer bread from ancient grain that’s filled with love.

So why does it work? Small self-sufficient communities with a link between producer and consumer that’s complete. And, including the (super few) steps along the way – the farmers market, the local coop – all are dedicated to good food. The market hosts fruit farmers, vegetable producers, bread makers, cheese makers, forest foragers, and craftsmen that bring together their fabulous produce to share with the community for 4 hours, 2 days a week, year-round. And the produce is absolutely sought out by a community that wishes to eat well. It’s true… The only thing left post market are stories and an amazing sense of community.

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Farmers Market – you buy from the hands that grow

Thanks for sharing your lovely energy and so many seeds!

That’s All Folks…

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The Mango Chronicles

And that’s a wrap for our season! Thanks ALL for sharing in the sweetness.

Ending notes…
Monsieur king fruit sure has a way to whiplash its workers. Did you know, once mango is ripe, the entire tree ripens at once? That’s over 500 fruit from a single tree. So if you’re with more than 1 tree…

This year, while the Jan showers left many agriculturalists wondering about their mango crop, we were showered with almost double the crop from the year before. My guess is, our slow and sustainable natural farming methods are beginning to show.

We brought tons of fruit to Bombay, and you shared it not only with your family and friends locally, but sent it across seas – the UK, Hong Kong, Dubai, China, the US. Chefs explored with mangoes in their kitchens.

The stories you’ve shared kept us going… The school principal who planted herself on the floor, placed a neatly ironed napkin on herself, and proceeded to eat, dripping juice all over, fisherwoman-style. The young lady who remembered only one thing from the night before party, a dude talking about farm mangoes. The Chef that exclaimed, my entire kitchen smells of mango. The lady who shared that her kids chomped through the fruit, for the first time in their lives. The bent over old lady on the street who upon seeing mangoes come into her lap, slowly lifted her head, pulled my face toward her with her street-toughened and thick hands, and kissed my forehead. The guy that said, I don’t really eat mangoes, took one bite, and the statement reversed itself. The BMC street cleaners that stared incredulously at first at the hand from the mango van, followed moments later waving mango to each other, over brooms and across streets. The many who would order a box, and a day later, call, with a sheepish smile in their voice, for another box.

Bombay, thanks for being receptive to naturally nurtured fruit. This year, less folk cared about irregular shape, colour, size, and more folk cared for quality fruit, one that delivers wholesome flavours, but more importantly, one that filled their homes again, of the scents of amba, a memory they had held since childhood.

All this in the span of 5 weeks…

Mirza Ghalib, Urdu and Persian poet, re. the best qualities of mangoes…

“In my vie mangoes should have two qualities, they should be sweet and they should be available in large quantity.”

We couldn’t agree more!

 

Mangoes

Sea of mangoes ripening at Vrindavan Farm