Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How to Peel a Mango

I'm walking through the alley at night- the alley that by morning is the market - when a group of people I'm always friendly with says hello and waves me over. In the evenings, many families sit outside their homes reclining in lawn chairs, just passing the time.

The woman in the group- who, by morning, sells me baguettes from time to time - offers me some dried squid. You know how much I love squid...but in its dried form, it is nothing like its former self. It's smelly. Men ride carts around with dried squid hanging from a wooden bar and I almost get up and run from them to escape the smell when they and their dried squid pass.

Of course I pretend to enjoy this woman's squid and say "Cam on" (thank you).

I begin to walk away but she calls me back. She runs inside her house and comes out holding four baby mangoes. They're so cute, and these little ones are always extra sweet and juicy. I don't see them much in the market. "Cam on!" I say, no longer pretending.

But then, listen to what she does. As an afterthought, she grabs one of the mangoes back. She looks at me to make sure I am watching and makes a peeling gesture to the mango, like, "You have to peel these first, then you eat the fruit inside." She does this a couple of times so that I am sure to get it. The others in the group sit quietly...patiently, while this woman demonstrates the necessity of peeling fruit.

Does this remind you of anyone? Maybe I was too hard on Nam; I mean, maybe this culture really believes we have no clue as to how to peel corn on the cob or fruit, or how to wash lettuce. Maybe it's part of the cultural propaganda that our entire nation eats at McDonald's for every meal. Who knows.

But the point is...what is the point?

It brought back uncomfortable memories. I have not yet reached cultural peace with this type of Vietnamese kindness.

I'm so glad my banana lady has never tried to show me how to peel a banana.

8 comments:

Mungourd said...

Poor, poor, misunderstood, freakishly long fingered Nammy... Oh, how I miss my cowboy friend...

Amy T. said...

Mungourd? Is that your nod toward the autumnal season?

Perspective check, Marjii. Some cultures don't show how, allow you to blunder, yell at you, and make you do it over. Once, my Hungarian host mother took my dinner plate and scraped it all into the garbage. Apparently I put something sweet on the same plate as my savory meal. Forbidden, without warning. To my credit, they had put out dessert on the same serving table at the beginning of the meal.

Ooooh, more unresolved feelings here too. I'll distract myself by going to shop for mangos,... or mungos,... or gourds. So confusing!

Brian Bowker said...

How To Peel a Banana

marjie said...

Brian, what a helpful video. Thanks.

Amy, was she punishing you? Like, you had not eaten anything and she took it from you? Yes, that would be worse, I think.

angie said...

I'm laughing out loud at work!

Kashif Mughal said...

pakistan is very rich in terms of producing mangoes.

Mango exporter
Sindhri mango exporter

Brian Bowker said...

We had mangos the other night, and didn't think to peel them first. It's such a thin, harmless looking peel; what could go wrong, right?

WOW! You REALLY need to peel those things before you try to eat them! Those peels (and a bit of the fruit directly under them) is TERRIBLE!

I have new respect for that Vietnamese kindness now!

gexhouse2 said...

Mango is most important crop in pakistan, Pakistani mango is exported to large number of countries in the world.

Mango exporter
Sindhri mango exporter