The Alphonsos have arrived.
A friend, walking down the high street this week, was accosted by a discreet “Hey! I can sell you Alphonsos”. He bought a box, called us, and by the time I got home yesterday, there was a box open in the kitchen, wafting its maddeningly desirable aroma around the house.
Alphonso mangoes are, not to go over the top about it, perfect. Their yielding firmness gives a clue to the quality of the flesh, but not enough of a clue. Inside, when you halve them and flip the skin inside out to eat it, the sumptuous orange flesh is neither watery nor stringy. It’s rich but endlessly soft, and its perfume, tickling up through your mouth into your nose, is a little overwhelming. It’s the sort of food after which you need a sit down and, perhaps, a little cry.
You have to get in quick with Alphonsos. The season lasts less than a month, and our local supplier restricts customers to a box each per visit. For the duration, that means more or less daily visits to the greengrocer, gambling that the week’s delivery has come in, and you’re not already too late.
The truth is that the difficulty of obtaining Alphonsos is part, a significant part, of their lavish perfection. Long may they last, at least until the middle of April.