A Sensational Mango Festival!
In Lihue, Kauai, where we live, the local mango season is winding down. Imagine my surprise when I learned that in the northern seaside town of Hanalei, a mango festival celebrating this glorious fruit was scheduled to take place this past Sunday.
And take place it did! And it seemed like the entire island had shown up. Given the hundreds of parked cars and pickups, and the fact that the festival ran from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., I’m estimating a few thousand people attended. When I asked a couple visiting Kauai how they learned of the festival, they said they just happened to be driving by and wanted to experience something non-touristy. Lucky them!
Mango vendors, a very proud lot, generously offered up samples—“you must try this;” “isn’t it fine?;” “have you ever had anything so delicious?” They waxed poetic over flavor profiles, where certain species originated, and told us how to tell when a mango was ripe enough to eat.
Many sellers offered products made from mangos, such as chutney, pickles, and mango bread.
The festival, sponsored by the Waipa foundation, is just one of many programs they offer to connect islanders with Hawaiian heritage.
Hawaii’s history is long and complicated, but the original settlers knew that they had to be self-sufficient since they lived on islands and could only depend on the sea and land to nourish themselves.
To accomplish that goal, the land was divided into portions, ahupua’a that went from mountains to the sea and included a watershed so that the land could be farmed and the sea fished. It was used in traditional Hawaiian times as a way to distribute the resources of the land to the people.
Few true ahupua’a exist today, and the system eventually collapsed. Hawaii now imports about 90 per-cent of its food.
The Waipa foundation makes its home in the 1600 acre ahupua’a of Waipa, a valley on the north shore of Kauai. The Waipa stream flows through the valley and empties into Hanalei Bay. The mission of the foundation is “the physical and cultural restoration of the ahupua’a of Waipa.”
Dorothy and I felt so happy tasting mangos, interacting with people we’d just met, and being in this glorious place. Pure joy.
And if mangos are in your markets, please indulge.
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Mouth watering feature, Greg.
My husband grew up in the hills of Panama. They had a mango tree, and one of the tasks he and his brother had was to gather the rotten mangos that had dropped from the tree. When they are rotten, the mangoes turned black and gooey.
One time, he went to pick up a rotten mango, and it sprouted wings and few away. It was a fruit bat. They love the rotten mangoes and get drunk on them. He happened upon on that had to sleep it off among the mangoes on the ground.