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007 Mangoes: The Fight over the 'Gutali'

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Thin golden yellow planks with treacherous splinters, roughly nailed together to form a make-shift crate. Inside, nestled in straw bunk beds, two dozen mangoes sleep peacefully. They mirror the infant Jesus tucked in his crib at my convent school. We watch them patiently as they slowly ripen. Morphing their colour from light greenish yellow to that final delicious deep red-orange.

Once ripe, the mango is cut, exposing its bright orange flesh. There on the steel plate lie five slices (faaks) and one flesh covered seed (the gutali). All my first cousins fight over the gutali. Although highly fibrous with exasperating threads that get stubbornly lodged between your teeth, it is still the prized commodity.

The fight settled, the ‘losers’ get one faak each. With the skin side up, we slowly pull the slice out of our mouths savouring every moment. Our lower teeth efficiently scrape the skin, relieving it of its heavenly flesh. The tongue quickly volleys this sweet juicy fruit to the back of our throats where they slide down effortlessly. All that is left on the plate is a bald gutali, and five pieces of skin. The faaks bear evenly spaced tooth-mark grooves like a freshly ploughed field.

This is the only way to eat mangoes. Viscerally and wholeheartedly. No forks for us. We sniff down whole baskets of fruit in seconds like Fantastic Mr. Fox eating his breakfast. Afterwards, we are happily covered in sticky juice with remnants of the flesh clinging on our faces and fingers. Mangoes and summer will always be synonymous for me.

Langada, Alphonso, Badami, Chausa, Neelam - which one is your favourite? Careful which one you nominate. There have been wars over this.

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