blogitto ergo sum

March 31, 2007

#97 How do you say annona in English?

Filed under: Uncategorized — yael [ya-el] wagner @ 15:13


In Vietnamese it’s called mango. No this is no mistake. True, it’s pronounced like magn-go, two long syllables.

But how do you say it in English? annona

When I asked the woman in the Vietnamese supermarket, she had no clue. So I asked Eran, who’s English never fails, didn’t know. And of course, I don’t even own a Hebrew-English dictionary. So, every week or so I go to the supermarket, buy 3-5 annona, and eat it in Hebrew.

The other day I landed in the doctor’s office. The nurse, after weighing me (a torture and an embarrassment these days more than ever before) was taking my blood pressure. While doing so, and doing so in close proximity, her name tag turned around. I got a glimpse at her name. Nguyen.

“You are Vietnamese, aren’t you?” asked the Sherlock Holmes in me. “yes, how did you know?” answered the surprised nurse. “Oh, I have a Vietnamese friend”, I said casually, and her last name is Nguyen too”.annona

From then on the conversation went very well. Apparently we frequent the same Vietnamese supermarket and the same take out place. I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity. “Do you know how you say in English this green fruit with bumps that look like zits… and black seeds, you know about this size…?”

“Soursop” was the answer. Soursop. Then we talked about how our mothers, having to budget, were allowing each child only half annona. Had to share. For the life of me, I don’t know how the soursop, made it to Israel. Popular in Tropical Asia and Latin America (guanabana; or guanaba in Spanish) not sure how it made its way to to little, remote Israel. However, I’m glad it did.

Now I can buy soursop.

Interestingly enough, the Hebrew name is the actual name of the genus Annona, family Annonaceae. What else? First known reference to annona is by Oviedo who described in 1526, the soursop as abundant in the West Indies and in northern South America.

There are about 60 different kinds of annona, and I’m ready to try them all. I mean soursop.





  1. Soursop!!!

    “abundant in the West Indies”?

    We kept seeing this fruit as juice and jam in the Caribbean, but never saw it performing live. Lee’s Sandwiches (the real good Vietnamese sandwich place) has soursop milkshake, if you desire it so.

    As a witness (and a victim) to your continuous pondering, I am glad you’re quest has come to its successful resolution.
    Now, how do you say עמבה in English?

    Comment by Nava — March 31, 2007 @ 16:39 | Reply

  2. I would guess that Amba is pickled mango.Any way I would say – screw philology – make it a quest to find an execelent recipe for amba.

    Comment by david — April 1, 2007 @ 03:59 | Reply

  3. Don’t know about philology, but that sound of the word is discouraging. Yet, amba will have to wait for the next chapter. Do you have a recipe for home-made pitas?

    Comment by yaelol — April 1, 2007 @ 08:25 | Reply

  4. I have a great recipe for home-made Pitot.
    Haven’t tried it yet (too busy with self-pity, as you graciously pointed out on my blog), but had them at a friend’s, and they were exquisite.

    Comment by Nava — April 1, 2007 @ 12:10 | Reply

  5. soursop and sweetsop :-). i love both of ’em, too. more info at

    Comment by cj — April 10, 2007 @ 11:23 | Reply

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