On the Meaning of Mangoes

updated Jun 7, 2019
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What is the meaning of mangoes? For Dianne Jacob, a food writer and editor, they are a lens to remember her childhood as the daughter of Iraqi Jews born in Shanghai, who fled to Vancouver during the Communist revolution. Refugees, immigrants, caught between several cultures — mangoes represented memory.

Jacob’s short, poignant essay is a beautiful read, and a fascinating look at an intersection of cultures I’ve never seen before. Culturally Jewish and Chinese, Jacob’s parents didn’t find home in either world, once they moved to Vancouver, “And just as they were not the right kind of Chinese, neither were my parents the right kind of Jews. At that time, Vancouver’s community of around seven thousand Jews was mostly Eastern European, with their own customs, dialects, and foods like brisket and gefilte fish, unknown to my parents.”

They longed for the tropical fruits they remembered from Shanghai — and finally, when Jacob was a young girl, a crate of mangoes arrived at their house. Here’s the story of that memory.

Read more: The Meaning of Mangoes by Dianne Jacob at Lucky Peach