23rd. August 2012 

Mangoes


"Copyright Owen Jones 2012 (c)" 

By: Owen Jones 

Mangoes

I have always liked mangoes, but living in the UK, they were not always available and, not liking shopping, I probably missed them sometimes when they could have been bought. They were always rather expensive too.

Fast forward thirty years and I was on holiday in Thailand. There were mangoes everywhere, but there was such a choice of fruit unknown to me that I rarely ate them. It is certainly no exaggeration to say that there were dozens of types of fruit on the market stalls that I had never even heard of before.

A Thai woman that I got to know, a farmer's daughter, seemed to know everything there was to know about food. She knew which part of Thailand the best examples of all the fruits came from and how to tell if they were ready to eat or not.

We often had breakfast together at my hotel and dinner at a restaurant, but in between, in traditional Thai style, we grazed all afternoon and evening on bits and pieces - snacks. Luckily, we both liked the same sort of snacks: fruit, barbecued kebabs and grilled fish, especially prawns.

And Thailand excels in all those categories.

We bought from the itinerant and market stalls during the day and from the road-side vendors after dark on our way back to our hotel, where we would eat our catch sitting on the floor watching cable TV.

Daytime might be spent at the pool or on the beach doing roughly the same. We got on very well and she invited me to accompany her back to her village for a special religious festival one weekend. I reflected on the offer for a minute and then jumped at the chance.

The village was located 350 miles 'up country', as the foreigners say, meaning up north. However, the VIP coach was very comfortable with aircon, a toilet, TV and videos. It travelled overnight, so most people slept. We were picked up at the bus station and taken the 50 miles to the village.

My friend proudly told me that her mother grew the best mangoes in the village and that this area produced the best mangoes and bananas in Thailand. She was right too. I had never tasted better mangoes and still never have many years later.

At the time that I was there, mangoes were plentiful, but bananas were out of season. There were also lots of coconuts and the milk was gorgeous at breakfast.

When the time came to leave, a couple of days later, we had to wait for our lift back to the bus station. Now, I don't mind waiting, if I know how long I will have to wait. Tell me three hours and I will find something to do for three hours and be ready on time, but if I am told then, that I have to wait another hour, I get annoyed.

This was what happened. We waited for the taxi for hours and then some more and then some more and more. I tried to keep calm and I consoled myself my eating 'mum's mangoes'. I stopped counting at eight. They were lovely.

By the time that we got to the bus station, I had been very lucky not to embarrass myself and I couldn't get to the toilet quickly enough. I learned my lesson and to this day, I love mangoes, but I won't eat more than two at a sitting and never, ever before travelling.

by Owen Jones

(c) Owen Jones 23rd August, 2012.

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