I don’t remember when my mango obsession begun. Most of the wild mango in Ghana are the small yellow-skinned, “hairy” kind that are best enjoyed as so: roll mango on hard surface or in palms to soften, bite off the skin at the tip,suck the living daylights out of the mango – I mean suck it! Then pull out the seed and scrape it clean with teeth, also attack the inside of the skin to make sure you get all the pulp possible.
I don’t remember when my mango obsession begun. When we moved to Ghana from Germany, I became fascinated with the beauty of the plants around me and the soil in which they grew (hey, I ended up a Biology major). I would eat an orange, and plant the seeds in the backyard. I would steal beans from the kitchen and put them in small bowls with moistened cotton wool balls to start them sprouting. I did the same with groundnuts and actually transferred these from my cotton-wool nursery to my little garden. Then one day while I was doing serious damage to a mango seed, I decided to go ahead and try my moist cotton-wool trick with it (yeah, there was a lot of cotton-wool missing from my mom’s stash, but it was all for an educational purpose, OK?!) It took several weeks, but the mango seed started to sprout and I transferred it to the backyard also. Everyday I would watch my garden grow. The groundnuts matured the earliest, and yes they were magnificent to eat.
We moved homes, and I made sure to transfer both my orange and mango seedlings to the new house. They were joined by banana trees, plantain trees, an indian almond tree, a pawpaw tree, a couple of coconut palms, a “real mango” tree – the Ivorian kind, a sour-sop tree (which my dad called apple – do you know how many pages of Brittanica Encyclopedia I had to flip to find out exactly what that tree was only to find out it belongs to the custard apple family so my dad wasn’t totally wrong) – lots of flowers, and when the season was right corn planted by my parents. Can I tell you how those bananas and corn were the best in the world….even though the soil at the new house was clay beneath the first 30 cm (yes I dug deep to see the change in soil layers – I think we’ve established I did things that normal 11-12 year old girls didn’t do so moving on…). I didn’t care much for pawpaw, but looking at how everyone else was eating it, it must have been heaven too. Alas, I had to say goodbye to my little babies when we left for the US but I returned six years later to enjoy the fruit of my labour. Umm, OK, at least I enjoyed the mango. In regards to the orange tree, I must have been too focused on my experimentation and not on “growing oranges” because those oranges were so bitter! *shudder*