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Mango-lovers converge on Fairchild for annual festival

Owl butterflies feasting on mangos in Fairchild’s Wings of the Tropics Exhibit.
Owl butterflies feasting on mangos in Fairchild’s Wings of the Tropics Exhibit.
© 2013 George Leposky

Thousands of mango-lovers converged on Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden for the 21st annual International Mango Festival on Saturday, July 13, and Sunday, July 14, 2013.

Mangos of the World display in the Garden House at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
© 2013 George Leposky

It was an opportunity to savor this succulent tropical fruit, and to learn more about its many varieties and uses. Although this year’s festival featured Mexican mangos, varieties from elsewhere around the world were not neglected. The world’s largest mango collection was on display in the Garden House, providing a touch-and-sniff experience of the assorted aromas, shapes, and colors of diverse kinds of mangos.

Attendees could also taste a selection of mangos and vote for their favorites, attend cooking demonstrations by top chefs, sample baked goods and other foods containing mangos, buy mango seedlings to plant and mangos to devour, and watch a flock of owl butterflies feast on mangos in the garden’s Wings of the Tropics Exhibit.

Among the participants

A highlight of the festival, on Saturday morning only, was the Mango Bites Sampling – a selection of mango dishes and products from restaurants, caterers, and businesses. They included mini mango choux buns from Joanna’s Marketplace, mango pie from Kenny’s Great Pies, and mango coco-chia pudding from Whole Foods Market. Linda Aamal Kite of Antie Mae’s Enterprise offered a piquant mango-ginger bread pudding.

Many of the food vendors on the Garden House lawn included mango recipes on their menus. Among them were Thai sticky rice and mango salad at Bangkok Cuisine, mango salsa at the Greek Food booth, a soup called mangospacho at CJ’s Peruvian Grill, and mango pastries and juice at Gerbaud Bakery.

Also on offer was rambutan, a bright red fruit that looks like a hairy lychee. Originally from southeast Asia, it is grown in Guatemala and imported to south Florida by Ecoripe Tropicals, which doled out samples and sold the fruit at the festival.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is located at 10901 Old Cutler Road in Coral Gables.

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