It’s official: the hairy caterpillar plague has reached Bali! And, word has it, these beautiful but itchy lil’ critters have a penchant for mangoes. Having a giant mango tree in our backyard, I not only started to get a little concerned, but I also started thinking more about the wonderful world of mangoes. Now Indonesia has a many species of the scrumptious fruit and I think I’d better tell you about some of them before our hairy friends get to them first. The Indonesian word for mango is ‘mangga’ which in Balinese is ‘poh’. Here are some of my personal favorites:
Mangga Harum Manis
You know these ones straight away because of their sweet, fragrant scent (harum manis). Depending on the type of tree, they range from small to large and you will know when they are ripe if their bottoms turn a darker color.
These may not be as sweet as the Harum Manis variety but as they grow to a larger size and have a lot of flesh with a smaller stone, you can really feast and get decadent on them. When they ripen, they remain green but get softer.
These are oblong in shape and are sweet but have their own characteristic flavor (very difficult to put into words – you will have to try them). You’ll know when they’re ripe because their skins go a yellowy color.
These delectably sweet mangoes are small and rounder but still slightly oval. When they are ripe, their flesh goes a whitish yellowy color. They still taste good even when they’re half ripe; if you cut them in half, the flesh right next to the bone will be a honey-like color with spots.
There are many, many more which I will talk about in my next article. Remember to be vigilant about the caterpillars—Indonesia would be a strange place without mangoes!
Vaughan Hatch has immersed himself with Balinese culture, living with locals in Bali since 1997. He speaks fluent Indonesian and Balinese, and is unashamedly addicted to playing gamelan. A linguistic, archaeology and publishing graduate, he works for indOKiwi ‘linguistic and cultural solutions’ in Sanur. Email him on email@example.com or call (0361) 464201 for further queries.