The waiting is the hardest part. I managed to score the first Indian mangos imported legally into the US. Mangos shipped that far have to be picked green to survive transit, and this reality factoid should have been obvious to me long before I looked inside the case. Despite having these precious Fabergé eggs in my clutches, I endure an interminable wait for them to ripen fully.
|Alphonso (left) and Kesar mangos (right)|
But what if these supermangos fail to live up to the hype, and I’m setting myself up for disappointment? Will I regret forking out $35 a case for 12 mangos?
Despite these concerns, plenty of other customers were snapping up cases of fruit last Saturday. It’s impossible to underestimate the excitement in some quarters of the Indian American community for these once illicit fruits. For many, the novelty of tasting a fruit unavailable in this country for the last two decades is worth the high cost. For more recently arrived expats, these mangoes don’t hold a candle to the tree-ripened ones back home. Will I have to travel to Mumbai to enter mango nirvana?
Pioneer Cash and Carry is the largest grocer in Little India, and store owner Devraj “Dave” Kerai wanted to be first to carry this in the Los Angeles area. Despite the high cost, he expected to sell through this initial shipment of 110 cases in a day. Kerai expects his next weekly shipment to arrive this Thursday or Friday, and by Saturday, will probably be sold out again.
Due to the high cost of air freight, future shipments are unlikely to drop substantially in price. The good news is that mangos are ripening in other countries, and the varieties trucked up from Mexico sell for very low prices ($8 a case in the L.A. region). Local markets sell Haden and Ataulfo mangoes from Mexico right now, with other varieties expected shortly.
Kerai’s produce distributor also sells to other grocers across the US. If you live near a city with a large Indian community, seek out the biggest Indian market in your area. See for yourself it these legendary fruit deliver the promised flavor bonanza. The season for mangos from India is expected to last only for a few more weeks.
Pioneer Cash & Carry
18601 Pioneer Blvd
Artesia, CA 90701