Friday, June 10, 2011

Alphonso vs Atualfo

It's mango season in India from where the great Alphonso mango comes.   The Mexicans being no slouch in the wrestling entertainment (see Lucha Libre) have thrown down with their own variety, Atualfo. 

The Atualfo is shaped like an oval with a small handle at the tip.  Any five year old could make it into a handy gun but remember they can do that with sticks as well.  The mango's yellow skin telegraphs the yellow firmish flesh inside.  The taste is sweet with a finish of brightness that is reflected by a gentle almost fizziness on the tongue like the ending of a hard apple cider.  In order to get the mango pieces away from their seed, it is best to slice in half lengthwise near the seed and then score the half with the flesh both lengthwise and widthwise.  You can push the outside skin to raise the flesh and cut away the squares of goodness.  This mango is great for salsas, ice cream toppings and cooking.  It is firm with very little fibres.  This year the crop seems a little less sweet than other years which may be due to the inclement weather Mexico has been having rendering some of the mangoes small and seedless and hence, unavailable.

India has also had its share of mango growing difficulties that affected the timing of the mango crop this year.  Their seasonal entry into the mango season was late but maybe it was waiting to make a grand entrance like the wrestling villian it is.  This mango is more ovoid with a less heterogenous coloured skin.  The flesh is a deep orange.  The fragance is peachy-mango.  Here, the flesh is thinner and less firm, making it easier to just peel off the skin and sink your teeth into it.  There are some who believe that it is juicier but it is probably this softness in the flesh that contributes to that perception.  It is creamy with an almost custard texture with less assertive but more subtle variances in flavour than the Atualfo.  It is best for fresh applications.  Not saying that it wouldn't be good for cooking but I would be concerned about the texture holding up in a stew or salsa. 

Both these mangoes are worth a trip to the supermarket if only to get away from the fibrous and relatively tasteless Tommy Atkins or Haden.  I am interested in trying both the Alphonso and Atualfo, especially the pit, in a stew if I can ever manage to keep them in the house. Unlikely.

There is a Pakistani entry into the Toronto market, the Sindra, which is next on my list.  It has a longer availability than Alphonso but is rumoured to share some of the same fragrant and subtle qualities of flavour.  All these varieties are easily found in the India Bizaar in Toronto.  I am looking forward to tracking this one down.

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