Last weekend my husband and I were invited to a dinner at our friend’s house which is located in a suburb of Oslo. We drove through the woods and the green grass fields and arrived hungry an hour later. I got off from our car and stretched my legs and already knew which house we were going to. Beautiful aroma of spices from the house was guiding us and it made me even more hungry! The chef tonight is from India, the country of world-class spices, and she is a very good cook. We were served South Indian style of Chicken Curry with coconut milk, an indian vegetable dish called “Subji” with cauliflower and green peas in curry flavor which was so delicious with chappati bread, homemade kebab sausages, chickpea dal with indian bread and very flavorful basmati rice with indian spices, deep fried sweet onion and deep fried almond on top. Ummm… Are you hungry now?
The dinner was wonderful as usual at this house. As much as I enjoy their friendly company and the delicious and authentic food from Indian home cooking there is one more entertainment which I enjoy when I visit this house, a lecture on spices. They always teach me something new about spices and I really believe Indian people are one of the best nation when it comes to the knowledge of spices. (I have not had any chance to meet people from Morocco) They know a lot because they live with spices, they are really like a living book. You know, we Japanese do not use so much spicy stuff, you may know WASABI and KARASHI(Japanese mustard), but we can never compare them with indian spices that are researched by history, grinded by families, mixed by secrets and used daily in people’s kitchen. During dinner it was so interesting to hear the lesson about spices and I felt like I was a young student in the class room again.
At this dinner we met an Indian couple who were both doctors specialized in leprosy, they told us they were on the way to Bergen (a city on the west coast of Norway) to visit the memorial museum of Dr. Hansen, the Norwegian physisian who identified the cause of leprosy 140 years ago. Before the dessert table was set they gave us a plate of fruits, a couple of small mangos, and we heard they were brought from India as a special souvenir by the doctor couple. WOW! We hesitated to consume it as I knew so much the precious value of things from your own country, specially fresh fruits carefully brought for you as souvenirs. But my friend was kind, she said we were more important than those mangos and I had a bite…..
You never know how special the taste was. The word “delicious” can not express enough even a half of it, “sensational” maybe a couple of inches closer but still far. I love mangos very much and I have eaten it in Okinawa and Miyazaki where the best Japanese mangos are from and we have many stores in Oslo that sell mangos from Pakistan but this mango is a totally different fruit. The size was small, maybe it was a bit larger than a big lemon. The color is so pretty orange-yellow and the flesh is so silky smooth and amazingly sweet and tangy and there was almost no fibers. Pungent aroma is packed in a small shell and it cracks open with sweet juice once you insert a knife into the flesh.
A new lecture started, this time about mangoes in India. I learnt the name first, it is called Asphonso Mango and also King of Fruits in India. My curiousity checked the statistics today: the top ten mango-producing countries in the world are India, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan, Mexico, Brazil, Bangladesh, Philippines and Nigeria. Global production in 2011 was 35 million tons and India alone produced nearly 50% of it.* Asphonso Mangos are one of the prime export items for India but this year the EU banned the import of mangoes from India after many of their consignments showed infestation of fruit flies. This has led to an oversupply in domestic markets in India, due to which the market price of Alphonso Mangoes has been going down. Farmers and traders, shops and merchants are all losing profits and we consumers in Europe have to eat Asphonso Mangoes only in our dreams. The only one positive thing is that many people in India can enjoy their king of fruits at an affordable price.
Until the export restriction is lifted I probably won’t be able to taste the wonderful mango again but it was really a sensational experience which I wanted to share with you!