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Mad about Mangoes

Mad about Mangoes

Summer has arrived and with it comes another much-awaited mango season in the BVI. Residents have had plenty of time for anticipation to build, as a few months pass from the time rust-coloured flowers appear on mango trees until the fruit is finally ready to be eaten.
After moving to the BVI, I was delighted to discover four mango trees on my rental property, and I eagerly anticipated summer mango season. The tree with the tastiest mangoes grew on the edge of a steep drop-off. Although that single tree yielded more fruit than I could possibly eat, I still hated to see even one precious mango roll down the hillside, destined to rot or become a meal for birds. Every morning for weeks I followed the same ritual: after breakfast, I put on old shoes, grabbed my fruit picker and scoured the trees for mangoes that were ready for picking. Soon my kitchen countertop was covered in mangoes, with different piles for mangoes at varying stages of ripeness. My husband and I ate what we could (which turned out to be A LOT of mangoes), packed our freezer with more and shared the rest with friends.
Months later, just as I had eaten the last of my frozen fruit and was mourning the end of my supply of homegrown mangoes, a friend gave me her tattered copy of “An Embarrassment of Mangoes,” by Ann Vanderhoof. My friend knew I enjoyed Caribbean cooking and sailing, and she assured me that I’d appreciate how the two intersected in this book. The reader learns the meaning of the title on the first page of this delightful book, part travel diary and part cookbook. The Canadian author writes about the time she and her husband lived aboard their sailboat in Grenada: “Mangoes are in season, and literally falling off the trees—an embarrassment of mangoes, to someone from the north. We feel duty bound to try as many varieties as we can.” The odd title accurately captures my own sentiments about mangoes. I grew up in a northern climate where snowy winters are the norm and where mangoes were an exotic treat during my childhood. Faced with the prospect of an “embarrassment” of mangoes falling off the trees in my BVI backyard, I couldn’t help but become a mango fanatic, eating the fruit for breakfast, lunch and dinner when in season.
Fortunately for my fellow local food enthusiasts, mangoes are one of the easiest locally grown foods to find, since mango trees abound in the BVI, and a single mango tree can produce hundreds of mangoes. Supermarkets and roadside vendors sell local mangoes, typically tiny kidney-shaped “Julie” mangoes, which are a deep yellow-orange colour and very sweet.
Mangoes are incredibly versatile in sweet or savoury dishes. Colourful salsas showcase mangoes with savoury ingredients, and are a festive use of an abundance of in-season mangoes.


Mango Salsa Recipes

Mango and Red Bell Pepper Salsa
1 C chopped mango
½ red bell pepper, chopped
¼ C finely chopped red onion
2 Tbl finely chopped cilantro
1 Tbl rice vinegar
2 tsp olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. Serve over grilled pork or fish (particularly rare grilled tuna). Can be made one day in advance.

Avocado and Mango Salsa

1½ C peeled and chopped avocado
1 medium mango, peeled and chopped
1½ Tbl finely chopped cilantro
1 Tbl lime juice
Salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. Serve immediately, with tortilla chips or on chicken or pork.

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