Growing up in a family whose diet was strictly meat, potatoes, pasta and Americanized Chinese food (when we were feeling adventurous), I don’t think I encountered mangoes until my first trip to India. Mangoes were in season, succulent and cheap. During frightfully hot days in New Delhi a juicy mango was a welcome treat.
Upon returning to Canada, I bought and enjoyed a mango. All seemed to be well. About 3 hours later I started to feel my lips tingle. Odd. By lunchtime my lips had becoming alarmingly enlarged and were throbbing. As it turns out, mangoes have a lovely little syrup in their skin that is also in….Poison Ivy! (If you knew me in elementary school you know that Poison Ivy is my kryptonite. I missed more school due to Poison Ivy reactions than was deemed plausible).
Within a few hours of eating the mango, my lips were blistering and had swollen to the point of making me look like Angelina Jolie after a Botox overdose. I found smiling, laughing, talking and eating to be painful activities. I ingested a large amount of anti-histamines and promptly fell asleep. Upon waking, I found that my lips were oozing. Okay, this is getting nasty. (Hey, be thankful I didn’t post the picture. Varun said I should.) After about 4 days of this nonsense, my lips started to calm down. As I explained this story, many found it unbelievable. I myself was curious, was it really the mangoes?
The following summer, I was again craving mangoes. Varun cut one for me and threw out the skin. Again my lips raged for days. I have henceforth come to the inescapable conclusion: I am seriously allergic to the skins of mangoes. As much as this generally elicits raised eyebrows, I told an Indian Dr once and was met with the reply, “Oh yes, it’s one of the most common allergies in India”. So there you have it. I’m not making it up to get you to cut my fruit for me.
While it’s helpful to know what I’m allergic to, I still LOVE mangoes. Luckily, I have an incredibly kind and careful husband who is willing to chop mangoes, wash the affected dishes, sanitize the counter and generally secure the perimeter. As such, we celebrated the beginning of summer with a delicious dose of Quinoa Mango Salad.
I’m not gonna lie, I look at the mango display longingly and suspiciously in the grocery store, wondering, If I grab it using a plastic bag and get Varun to cut it, will I escape unscathed? It always comes down to this: would I rather eat a mango or have functioning lips? Sometimes, the mangoes win.