When is a mango not a mango?

Okay. Here’s the piece on mangoes I intended to write a few blogs ago before I got sidetracked.
I had just returned from visiting my daughter and her family in Austin, Texas. My grandson is now 7 months old and my daughter is expanding his palate by introducing new foods that she pulverizes in a Vitamix I bought her for this purpose. He thoroughly enjoyed a recent spinach, apple concoction that Greta enhanced with a bit of cinnamon.
Blueberries with quinoa? Well, he was in Heaven.
Same with bananas and oatmeal.
One morning Greta pondered what she might blend with mango? Cherries? We didn’t think so. Blueberries again? Perhaps. Pineapple? Coconut?
During the conversation I thought of something I hadn’t in decades. My mom called green bell peppers mangoes.
Greta had never heard of such a strange thing. Neither did her husband.
I began to wonder if I had dreamt it.
But a quick call to my sister confirmed that Mom indeed called peppers mangoes. She called her stuffed green peppers stuffed mangoes. We didn’t question it.
In fact, I had thought bell peppers were mangoes until I encountered my first actual mango in Hawaii in the late ’70s. I didn’t give it much more thought until it came up in Greta’s kitchen and then I needed to find an answer to the mix-up. A quick internet search revealed one.
Turns out when mangoes were first introduced to America (sometime in the 17th century) they had to be pickled or they would go bad. Lots of fruits and vegetables fell into this category, particularly green bell peppers. Eventually, the word “mango” became synonymous with pickling, and that led to bell peppers being called mangoes.
Most of the results of my internet search, however, said calling bell peppers mangoes is a Midwest thing. I have no idea how it made its way into the lexicon of my mom and dad both of whom grew up in Pennsylvania.
Maybe Greta can whip up a blend of mango and green bell pepper for Parker. And maybe not.
But next time someone you know has had too much to drink instead of calling them pickled, you might consider saying they are mangoed.

Ed Ackerman