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U.S. Braces for (Indian) Mango Madness

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U.S. Braces for (Indian) Mango Madness

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U.S. Braces for (Indian) Mango Madness

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Last Wednesday, White House press secretary Tony Snow was back on the job after cancer surgery facing some persistent questioning about Iraq, al-Qaida and the president's prewar polemics. The exchange came to a crashing close when Snow did what White House press secretaries in need of punctuation tend to do. He called on a member of the White House press corps who was guaranteed to change the subject - in this case, Raghubir Goyal of the India Globe.

Mr. RAGHUBIR GOYAL (Reporter, India Globe): What message does mangoes bring, as far as India-U.S. relations are concerned, say and other issues?

Mr. TONY SNOW (White House Press Secretary): I don't know. It is my first mango-related inquiry.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SNOW: I think, Goyal, I think what you do see is constantly - India is a very important partner for the United States, so we...

SIEGEL: We have observed here in the past, the phenomenon dubbed the Goyal foil which can switch any subject to Kashmir or U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation or other news that we might otherwise have missed - in this case, the breakthrough on Indian mangoes.

Mr. MRON SOMERS (President, U.S.-India Business Council): The Bush administration has removed the last of the barriers that for 18 years has prevented the import to the United States of delicious Indian mangoes.

SIEGEL: That is a taped message from Mron Somers, president of the U.S.-India Business Council, an arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He goes on to quote India's commerce minister.

Mr. SOMERS: America for too long has denied itself the taste of delicious Indian mangoes, and he's right. This breakthrough of opening mango trade is highly emblematic of a push by both the United States and India to deepen two-way trade to $50 billion this year.

SIEGEL: Since the 1980s, concerns about foreign fruit flies kept the Indian mango out of the U.S. market. Now they are on their way back. On the world mango stage, India is a colossus accounting for close to half of the world's mango output, and producing such sweet varieties as the Alphonso and the Kesar.

Dr. BHASKAR SAVANI (First Importer of Indian Mangoes to the U.S.): The aroma, the fruity fragrance after eating will be in your mouth. You don't need to use any mouth freshener, and the taste will be lingering in your fingers for hours.

SIEGEL: That's Dr. Bhaskar Savani of Philadelphia. He's a dentist by trade. But he also claims to be the first importer of Indian mangoes under the new rules. Dr. Savani says American mango eaters have been missing out for years.

Dr. SAVANI: If you look at anybody who knows mangoes and the Floridian mango we call it comes from South American mango, it absolutely misses the flavor of the mango.

SIEGEL: Savani says those Floridian mangoes known to most U.S. shoppers are actually descendants of Indian mango rootstock brought to the Americas by the British.

Dr. SAVANI: It looks bigger. It looks better. A lot of my American friends they say it looks so beautiful; they buy this mango to decorate the fruit table in the party.

SIEGEL: Uh-huh.

Dr. SAVANI: Not to eat.

SIEGEL: Now what are some recipes, what are some dishes through which the mango is renown say in Indian cuisine?

Dr. SAVANI: I mean of course there's mango varieties like mango milkshake, mango lushes, which is mango from yoghurt. You know, mango and yoghurt.

SIEGEL: Uh-huh.

Dr. SAVANI: And that's pretty tasty. And then the raw varieties of mangoes, they use for mango chutneys.

SIEGEL: Uh-huh.

Dr. SAVANI: Or mango, you know, dipping sauce. But the mango lush or mango milkshake is really, you know, tasteful and it gives you the amazing flavor and the taste.

SIEGEL: That's Dr. Bhaskar Savani of Philadelphia. He is among the first legal importers of Indian mangoes to the United States in 18 years.

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