Alphonso mangos have arrived in Berlin.
If you’re from the United States, you may never have tasted an Alphonso mango. A pale yellow papaya color, the mango has a deep orange, pulpy flesh that you can tell will be more appetizing than those Brazilian greens you find in Plus and Aldi. In India it’s used in the mango products exported to Indian restaurants abroad—juice, ice cream, lassi base—that all taste mysteriously better than what you can buy at home. No wonder: there was a ban on all imports of this special variety to America until last year.
Alphonse mangos (in all their spelling variations) hit the markets in India from March through May. Yet a Pakistani variation has suddenly popped up in Berlin during June, under the trade name of Honigmango.
You won’t find them at your weekly local market, at least not the schmancy one I go to in Charlottenburg, but they’re all over the foreign food shops. The picture is from a Persian food store (also selling merguez!) on Kantstrasse just west of the Charlottenburg S-Bahn. I’ve noticed that some Thai shops in West Berlin have boxes at their checkout counters as well (see the Thai-Viet Markt on Wilmersdorferstrasse), almost as an afterthought.
You can spot the mangos easily: they’re the ones packaged like fragile Christmas tree balls, in tinsel and shredded paper. Don’t be discouraged by the high per-box price; I bargained my man at the Persian shop down to 1.50 last week for a perfectly ripe Alfonso clone and 1 euro for a smaller one.
The exotic flavor is worth the splurge. Try it with yogurt or quark: the juices get all over the place when you cut the thing, and you won’t want to let them go to waste.