Do you like them a little tart? Or intensely sweet? Spicy or aromatic? If you ask Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s senior tropical fruit curator, Richard Campbell, a mango should be sweet and also a little tart. Not so for his fellow curator, Noris Ledesma, who prefers her mangos to taste sweet as honey. When it comes to talking about what a good mango should taste like, the two bicker like siblings.
Ledesma says most people prefer mangos with a little acidity hitting the back of their mouth. I always thought it was the opposite, and in the tasting the pair held last week at Fairchild Farm, it seemed that most people shook their heads at any hint of acidity. I side with Cambpell, though I don’t discriminate against the sweeter kind.
Not that it matters. With so many varieties of the fruit, there’s bound to be one that’s just perfect for every palate and at the garden’s mango festival this weekend, people can taste some 30 varieties of the fruit selected by Campbell and Ledesma for the occasion. The honorees this year are the mangos of Hawaii.
Aside from the tasting, the cooking demos and mango auction, the festival is an opportunity for Campbell and Ledesma to educate other growers on new growing techniques and mango varieties. Their hope is to encourage South Florida growers to grow different varieties of the fruit, creating a “boutique” market for it. Maybe one day at our farmers markets, we’ll find unique types of mangos. For now, we have the festival to go to for a taste of the wide variety that grow in our backyard.
*Listen to Campbell talk about the festival in Trina Sargalski’s piece for Under the Sun*
19th Annual International Mango Festival
July 9 and 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables; 305.667.1651
$25 for adults, $18 for seniors, $12 for kids 6 to 17. Free for Fairchild members.
See the full program here.