In today’s world, mangos are available in virtually every grocery store, every day of the year. But India’s Alphonso mangoes are still a strictly seasonal event—and until two years ago, couldn’t be found in the States at all.
For seventeen years, fears of fruit-borne disease and contamination had kept Indian mangoes from American shores
, though the United States is the world’s largest importer of the fruit, and India, the biggest producer (growing almost half the world’s mangoes). However, U.S. trade officials lifted the ban in 2007, allowing Kesar, Banganpa, and, most importantly, Alphonso mangoes to rush into American markets—delighting mango devotees across the country.
Why the excitement? The Alphonso mango, known as the “king of fruit” in India, bears little relation to the gritty, fibrous specimens found in many American markets. Alphonsos are a deep, almost reddish-orange, with a nectarlike sweetness and pungent aroma noticeable even when the fruit is unpeeled. In India, the arrival of these mangoes each spring is a hotly anticipated event; when in season, the Alphonso dominate local fruit markets, turn up on restaurant menus all over major cities, and appear at every street vendor’s cart, whether as mango juice, ice cream, or lassis
Now that Indian mangoes can be exported to America, they can be found through the end of May at Indian specialty stores and markets as well as higher-end groceries across the country. And ever since the United States has gotten a taste, their arrival each spring has been eagerly awaited—here, just as in their native India.