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Mangoes from India stir nostalgia in community


New York : The arrival of Indian mangoes in the US has generated a wave of excitement and nostalgia among the Indian American community.

The South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) website has already received many postings from the community reflecting their craving to taste the long-deprived fruit.

"I'm thrilled. It's been one of the things I miss most from India. The Alphonso is just delicious, the best in the world. Americans have been deprived of this delicacy for too long," Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International who grew up in Mumbai, told SAJA.

Shashi Tharoor, the former UN Under-Secretary General, said: "After years of penury, where what passed for mangoes in American supermarkets was a travesty of the term, we at last have the real thing!

"I used to believe that true mango lovers could sue American groceries for false advertising – the tasteless, fibrous, tart and flavour-challenged fruit they sold did not deserve the name of mango.

"Now we should urge every American we know to try a real Indian mango. They'll never think of mangoes the same way again."

The US received its first consignment of Indian mangoes after 18 years early this week.

At a mango festival hosted at the US-India Business Council (USIBC) headquarters Tuesday, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab and Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns each received the first gift baskets of ripe Indian mangoes from India's ambassador Ronen Sen.

The US had banned the import of Indian mangoes in 1989 over problems with pests such as fruit flies and weevils.

"The broader implications of the move aside, the decision by the US to start importing Indian mangoes simply means residents of the States will now be able to start enjoying the finest mangoes in the world, not just the insipid varieties from elsewhere that were the only option available to them until now," said publisher David Davidar.

"In so many ways, the absence of the Indian mango from our lives here has become a symbol for the South Asian experience in the West. No matter how far we've travelled, how well we do, or how long we have been here, the inability to get a good Alphonso or any other variety has meant that we have always had a portion of ourselves that existed elsewhere, beyond the imagination or experience of our new home," said a sentimental Ashir Badami in his message on SAJA's website.

"Yummy! Can't wait to eat them. I've been telling my Wholefoods supermarket in LA to import them. It's cool they are here," posted Ajay Mehta.

"I am thrilled about this! Having had my first Indian mango in India just a month or so back, I have to say they are better than any mangoes we have ever had here before," posted Melanie.

SAJA is an organisation for journalists of South Asian origin and journalists interested in South Asia.