While the rest of you revel in the gluttonous delight that is Mango Madness, spare a thought for those of us who, through no fault of our own, literally can’t stomach the fruit. You see, there are some poor souls living in the Territory who suffer from a chronic and unfortunate condition: Mango Envy.
M.E. is greatly misunderstood but simple enough to diagnose. It’s typified by an utter loathing for the aroma and, to a lesser extent, taste of mangoes, conflicted by an uncontrollable lust for the pleasure everyone else seems to find in eating them. It’s kind of like suffering a severe peanut allergy and being forced to decide between NOT having that Snickers bar and anaphylaxis.
Mango Envy can lie dormant for months, even years if you reside in the cooler climes of the south. In the NT, however, where seasonal love for mangoes is as commonplace as dragonflies in the Dry and faulty aircon units in the Wet, a severe M.E. episode can be triggered by something as innocent as the sight of a ‘2 FOR $5’ sign at Coles.
Despite your affliction and the fact that you did exactly the same thing last year, you get carried away and buy up big. The fruit is hard, green and as premature as the Christmas baubles already strung between the shelves (it’s only October), but you convince yourself that this will be the year you finally consume a whole a mango daiquiri without regretting it immediately.
The condition peaks a month later when your housemate Lynda arrives home with a 10kg bag from the market, which she stashes in the pantry at nose level while enthusiastically describing the fiesta of salads, salsas and sorbets she’s going to create once they fully ripen. You believe her. The bandwagon never felt so good. You BELONG.
Next morning you stumble in a happy sleep haze to the aforementioned pantry in search of cornflakes, throw open the door and… are instantaneously smacked in the sinuses with an aroma so chumpy it’s practically visible.
That’s when the the cold, hard reality of Mango Envy washes over you.
You HATE mangoes.
There is no smell so tangible, so eradicable, so sickeningly there, as the odour of an overripe mango in 90% humidity.
Some backstory. My battle with M.E. began many years ago when I was just 14; I became quietly, horribly carsick in the back of a very new, very clean and very expensive sedan driven by my schoolfriend’s mother down the Great Ocean Road. Not wanting to embarrass my teenage self, I kept my mouth shut (for practical reasons as well as social ones).
About 30 seconds from projectile, the driver swerved dangerously across the double lines and screeched to a sudden halt by a mango stall on the opposite side of the road.
‘I’m just going to pop these here; they won’t bother you will they?’ my friend’s mother trilled as she hefted her overripe payload onto the narrow shelf behind my head. I declined to answer, for opening my mouth would have permanently voided the car’s warranty.
Another 400 million hairpin bends later I was ready to leap from the moving vehicle and hurl myself (or the semi-dried tomato focaccia I had eaten for lunch, for it was 1996) off the nearest cliff.
To this day, despite my desperate desire to love mangoes like a proper Territorian, a single sicklysweet waft from a fruit market will toss me right back into the backseat of that hellcar.
That doesn’t stop even the bats that fly over our house after raiding the neighbours’ trees chirping with delight as they drop their half-eaten prizes with a splatter on the iron roof. Mango Envy is indeed a cruel mistress.
Enjoy your mangoes NT, but spare a thought for the sufferers who look on in nauseous but earnest envy.