Essays, Stories, Adventures, Dreams
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
Mango is my Last Name, Ataulfo is my First Name
This week marked the arrival of a welcome trend in advertising. Inasmuch as the Footloose Forester is suspicious of many of the deceptions in marketing techniques, the new labeling on a modest net sack of mangoes mollifies him somewhat about knowing what he is buying in the produce section of the supermarket. Getting down to brass tacks, the bag and label shown below says a lot about mangoes.
First off, the Footloose Forester is an unabashed and self-confessed connoisseur of mangoes. His travels and residencies in countries where fresh mangoes abound were the sparks that ignited an appreciation for the taste and variety of mangoes, in general. However, with about 1,000 varieties grown world-wide, his palate has sampled only a small number of them. Furthermore, he believes that very few varieties are found in commercial markets because it is likely that bland taste in some, excessive stringiness in others, and limited production even in the best varieties; are all factors in their marketing and consumer acceptance.
Not all mangoes are shaped the same, of the same general size, have the same texture, or taste the same. Getting a good-tasting mango is a big deal simply because there are so few varieties that are marketed. Conversely, so few mango varieties are marketed because there are so many inherently objectionable traits in most of them. So, it was a pleasure to know that Mr. Ataulfo is being promoted with a very few but meaningful indicators of identity.
Many people would likely agree that Mr. Ataulfo is superior to almost any other mango one is likely to see in supermarkets in North America. There are others such as the Kent, the Tommy Atkins, the Keitt, and occasionally the Hayden; but in the humble opinion of the mango lover who calls himself the Footloose Forester, none of them rate higher than Mr. Ataulfo in the produce sections of the supermarkets where most urban citizens shop.
Before he delves into his comments about Mr. Atauflo, the Footloose Forester acknowledges that there are other mango varieties that are as very good tasting. Their scarcity in marketing schemes is probably a result of limited production, hence they are just not available in most markets. And for reasons that have already been mentioned, the vast number of varieties are not marketed, at all. The most divine-tasting mangoes he has ever eaten are the Pieri variety and one from Australia that he has not yet learned the name of (see below). When huge mangoes like the one shown below appear in markets, Mr. Atauflo will have a worthy competitor.
unidentified mango variety from Australia
As regards the recent improvements in the packaging of fruit for sale in supermarkets, the clues in the first picture are obvious. RCF, whoever they are, clearly labels the bag of six fruits as ATAULFO MANGOES and are a product grown in Mexico. The open net bag lets you see the degree of ripening without having to peer through an opaque plastic bag. Furthermore, the producer states that you should store the fruit at room temperature. Most importantly for those unfamiliar with the vagaries of tropical fruit, the main message is that Señor Atauflo is ripe when he is soft and wrinkly. When the skin is greenish or a pale yellow, mango slices will be somewhat tart; as it ripens it changes from light yellow to a deep shade of yellow, and a distinctly different taste, and when the skin gets wrinkly—the juiciness increases and the full-bodied flavor develops. That cannot be said about all mangoes, and it makes a huge difference in the potential for consumer acceptance.