Museum celebrates mango season

At Willie's Farm, customers had no trouble identifying mango varieties. - PHOTOS: JEWEL LEVY

Visitors to downtown George Town on Saturday had the opportunity to indulge in some mango madness at “Looky Ya: Mango Season at the Museum.”

Janilee Clifford kept everyone happy with mango juice.
Janilee Clifford kept everyone happy with mango juice.

Many varieties of local mangoes were on display, including Glen, Kurt, Nelson, Jakarta, Julie, Number Eleven, Yami, Fairchild, Springfield and Nam Doc Mai.

Mango season is eagerly anticipated every year in Cayman, and the idea of celebrating it in a mango festival came from museum board Chairman Alfonso Wright, according the museum’s director, Peggy Leshikar–Denton.

The museum plans to make the festival an annual one, and part of its ongoing Looky Ya events. Many of the mangoes were provided by vendors from the farmers market, such as Hamlin Stephenson and Willie’s Farm, who raided their mango trees to make the day a success.

“We have to listen to the mangoes because they are going to tell us when they are ready … This year, they were a bit late, which is why we had the event on Saturday, June 16,” Ms. Leshikar-Denton said.

Traditionally, mangoes are picked straight from the tree, peeled and eaten. Green, “ton” (half-ripe) or ripe fruit are seasoned with salt and pepper, and sometimes vinegar, and eaten out of a bag.

At Saturday’s event, some vendors put their own twist on the fruit, enticing visitors with breads, jams, juices and cakes.

For those unfamiliar with the wide variety of mangoes grown in Cayman, a huge poster was on display, and Willie’s Farm stall put the names on each type of mango on the skin of the fruit.

Phillip Campbell from the Agriculture Department demonstrated how to prepare “bud root” and how to go about grafting it on the mango tree.

Residents Andrew Wilson and Hayley Kooyman said they had a tough time deciding which mangoes to choose because all of the samples tasted good.

“We just picked a few randomly, which is kind of hard because we are not from here and don’t really know the different types,” said Mr. Wilson.

“I love it …. It makes you appreciate what is growing here as well,” said Ms. Kooyman, sampling another fruit, Cayman sweet red plum, for the first time.

Among the vendors supporting the festival were Virginia Christian showcasing her crafts, Rose May Ebanks with batches of fish and fritters cooked on the caboose outside the museum door, and Lu Lu’s Kitchen, serving Cayman stew beef, turtle crab and more.

Cayman Folk singers and musicians Gary Scott, Dennom Bodden and Stephan Cotterell kept the crowd entertained with traditional music.