Mangoes on Our Mind

July 02, 2013 | by by jess swanson
photography by shutterstock | Food & Drink News

mango with stem

The orange may be the official state fruit, but Miami’s love for mango goes way back. From the annual King Mango Strut parade in Coconut Grove to Ocean Drive tourist staple Mango’s Tropical Cafe, this green-and-sunset-hued fruit has become the mascot for Miami’s idiosyncrasies.

Commemorating the mango in all its iterations, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden will hold its 21st annual International Mango Festival on July 13 and 14. The weekend event is a whirlwind of mango tastings featuring more than 30 varieties from Fairchild’s own groves. Altogether, some 300 kinds of mango from around the world will be on display, all grown in the botanic garden.

The Miami-mango relationship began in the early 18th century, when pirates planted Florida’s first mango seeds (from turpentine mangoes) along the Miami River. Over time, the local environment engineered Florida’s unique brand, the Haden, discovered in Coconut Grove. Fairchild’s curator of tropical fruit, Noris Ledesma, has journeyed to Indonesia and the South Pacific examining the fruit in depth. “Florida’s mangoes are explosions of red and orange,” Ledesma says. “[The Haden] is not too sweet; it’s not too tart. It’s the mango for everybody.”

The fruit has even helped define Miami cuisine through its use in a fusion of Latin American and Southern comfort food. Today you see it expressed in items such as Florida Cookery’s Grandma Esther’s Mango Pie, and Jaguar’s Mahi-Mahi Mango-Verde and Mambo-Mango Salad. You go, mango. July 13 and 14, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, 305-667-1651

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