The Mango Showers of May: George Washington's Uppumanga!
Tiny tender green mangoes available in the Indian grocery stores from February. These are still available but would be slightly larger in size and would have developed a harder coat around its 'stone' /the mango seed.
It was easier for George Washington to access Indian mangoes than hordes of 'yours truly's' from the sub-continent. However, GW got his mangoes pickled not blasted with radiation as it enters the US.
Entering George Washington's Kitchen
We can trace the entry of people from India/sub-continent from the British Colonial time, to the maritime workers who came through the western coast. However... Before the entry of early Punjabi immigrants and ''chicken curries'from the sub-continent into the west coast... Before the entry of smart, scientific and small groups of Indians working in the exalted 'Sighyyence' field... Before the wave of ambitious nerses, doctors and such... Before the wave of plentiful 'keyboard tappers and managers'... Before the very ambitious Indian American's courting favour with the highest echelons of American power... Way before the carefully timed visit of US Trade Representative, Susan Schwab in March 2007, riding the machismo of the Harley Davidson to wrangle Alphonso mangoes in return from the Indian Commerce Minister, Kamal Nath...
Long before all this,the humble and zimbleUppuManga had achieved the favoured status to travel with an English name, 'pickled mangoes', as an elite cargo to grace George Washington's table. :-)
Now, the claim that the Uppumanga traveled to grace the White House occupant's table is speculation.
We do not know what kind of pickled mangoboarded the ship from India
Historical trade routes and sources of mangoes would point towards the western coastal region of India. The mangoes might have come from anywhere from the coast of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka or Kerala.
Why Kerala? Why not Goa and/or the Konkan or any of the above?
When George Washington imported 'pickled mangoes' from India, the south-western coast was under the influence of the Portuguese. They had officially 'discovered' the trade route to access the Black Gold of Malabarand displaced the longtime Arab traders. By the 1700s the Portuguese had to contend with the growing British presence in India. The Portuguese had also introduced red chilli peppers in the subcontinent, thereby influencing the diverse cuisine of a sub-continent forever. Goan cuisine is heavily influenced by the use of spices introduced by the Portuguese. So why not the fiery hot pickles from this region? Perhaps, it is more likely that when mangoes were introduced to America from India, they were pickled in brine to survive the long voyage. Had red chilli peppers gained wide-spread usage in Indian cuisine? Mangoes-in-brine might have been more amenable to the American palate than those pickled in red chilli spicing. Again, it might well go either way!
on view until August 11, 2012. Several books focusing on the first couple's hospitality and dining habits have been published. However this exhibition provides a more extensive view into the sources and access to ingredients, the Washington's had during the 1700s.
The Washingtons imported most of their beverages, spices and condiments from Asia, the Mediterranean and the West Indies. Among them, a pipe of wine ( approximately 126 gallons), 25 pounds of tea, a bushel of almonds (roughly 50 pounds) and ....a pound of cayenne pepper!!!!
What did they use this cayenne pepper for? One would really like to know !
While this throws a ladle into the line of pickled-speculation, in the best interests of the story told here, we will draw a briny line towards the Malabar coast. So if the mangoes were pickled, chances are they would have been the older method of pickling that has existed in the Malabar coast, mangoes in brine =Uppumanga. But then, I am partial as a Malayali! Now, how many ambitious Malayalee's or for that matter, proud Indian American's can claim that degree of closeness to an American President, past-or present, living or no more?!! :-D!
Mango in Brine: UppuManga: Uppu=Salt and Manga=Mango. Many versions of mango pickles exist in the mango growing regions of the sub-continent. However, Uppumanga is quentessentially Malayali. It permeates the Malayali's consciousness through the social fabric, folklore and the feudal ethos that existed in Kerala. Uppumanga deserves much more, but this post has been delayed and has become way too long so here is the recipe for...
About 20 tiny, tender green mangoes, washed and cleaned
About 6 tbsps of Salt
4-5 cups of water [take as needed],
2, 16 oz/pint clean sterilized jars
Squares of clean cotton cloth
and thread to tie them [ optional]
Method Boil the water,
Let it cool completely
Insert the cleaned mangoes in the jar
Pour 2 1/2 tbsps-3 tbsps of salt into each jar over the mangoes
Pour the cooled water until it covers the mangoes.