Along the Natchez Trace

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mango, you say?

I grew up in a small coal-mining town in southeast Ohio.  My Dad always put in a big garden and my Mom canned fruits and vegetables...  she even canned beef from a cow that Daddy had butchered.  My Dad also butchered a hog and cured the meat on the back porch.  

We ate all the usual things...  cabbage, corn, peas, green beans, and in the summer we had lettuce, onions, radishes, carrots and....  mangoes.

Mangoes, you ask?  In Southeastern Ohio?  Come'on...  that's a tropical fruit!

Well, in my part of the world, these were called "Mango"s
Most of these green peppers have already started to turn from green to orange and red, but there is no doubt that they are green peppers.

Now just across the aisle are the fruits available here...
Not quite the blushing reddish color you might expect, but...  these are Mangoes.

I was probably a teenager before I ever saw a "real" mango....  and to her dying day, my Mom called a green pepper a mango.  

I got to wondering how in the world that crisp salad vegetable got called a mango, and, of course, had to Google it.  Wikapedia had an answer that seemed reasonable to me:

The “mango,” the real one, is a tropical fruit indigenous to Southeast Asia and India, now grown all around the world, and known for its sweetness and unique flavor.  The name “mango” comes from the Tamil word “mankay,” and “mango” first appeared in English in the late 16th century.
The first mangoes imported into the American colonies were from the East Indies, and, since this was long before either high-speed transport or refrigeration, they arrived not as fresh fruit, but in pickled form.  This fact turns out to be the key to the mango-pepper mystery.  At some point, early on, there was a popular misunderstanding of the word “mango” in America, and people began to use “mango” as a general synonym for “pickled dish,” no matter what the dish  was made from.  Thus, in 1699, we find references in a cookbook to “a mango of cucumbers” and “mango of walnuts.”  Pretty soon almost anything that could be pickled was called a “mango.”   Apples, peaches, apricots, plums, even bunches of grapes, once pickled, became “mangoes,” usually in the form “mango of peach,” etc.  “Mango” even became a verb in the early 18th century meaning “to pickle.”

I read further and found that it's common in the mid-west states for folks to call green peppers "mangoes"....  especially in Ohio and Pennsylvania.  It went on to say:
The older generation in this area also referred to the green pepper as a mango, but as people became more educated and knowledgeable and of course more familiar with real mangoes this has diminished and really only heard by the older generation and even many of them have stopped once they became aware...  and I'm sure in some cases not to give away their age.

I can't remember how long ago I started calling green peppers by their correct name, but as many years ago as that's been....
I think of my Mom and her mangoes...  and I'll admit a big smile comes to my face just looking at them and remembering.

That's All For Today!


  1. If I heard that term from my grandma it didn't stick. Great bit of trivia!

  2. Both types of 'mangoes' are excellent eating, in my opinion. You've left me smiling too.

  3. That was a great story, and memories of you mother.

  4. That's a really neat story/memory you have of your mother. I had not heard any of that before - that's why I like visiting your blog: you are always a great source of information/knowlege, and SMILES!! Oh, and good photos too.

  5. I guess mangoes have gone the way of ice boxes. :)

  6. I will take both kings of mangoes. Mmmmmm goooood

  7. Very interesting. I had never heard of green peppers being called mangoes. It's lovely to have such sweet and funny memories of parents.

  8. hah! always something with ya... I never... ever in a zillion years would have guessed that mango was a legitimate name for a pepper. pickled peppers ... Peter picked a peck of em...

    I thought okra was called groceries for a long time. When I finally heard someone say ... okra, I asked Mother why we called okra ... groceries. She laughed and LAUGHED and laughed ~ my brother was watching her unload sacks of groceries ... okra came out... he asked what's that? she answered... groceries.

    you have got to be kidding me... THEN that same brother ... told me that the crumbly gooey residue left after you picked up the cupcake ... like Hostess' stuff ~ was poison.

    I was DATING ... 16 years old!!! my boyfriend raked his finger on the gooey residue and I grabbed his finger and said no.. that's ..poi...

    I actually thought ... what??? I couldn't finish the statement.. I actually believed that ... I know now, of course, he got all the gooey crumbly stuff for himself. mean mean mean

    You seem to always bring childhood memories to the forefront.. lol

  9. That's really interesting - but growing up in California, I knew a pepper was a pepper, and I never liked them much. I didn't know anything about Mangoes, though, until I was an adult. I think the first one I bought was at Costco, and they are delicious!! :)

  10. To this day my Mom (76 yrs old) calls all peppers mangos. I correct her and she refuses to call peppers, peppers. We are from southern OH also (Scioto county). I really enjoy reading about your day to day life in CR. That is how i envision my retirement, traveling to different places and emerging myself in everdyday life there. CR is on my list plus Belise, Panama, Halifax, Lyon (sp) France, Tuscony, Brussells and many more. Instead of spending one or two weeks in one place I hope to spend one or two months. I still have a few more years of daily grind before I can start that adventure.