Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How to cut a Mango

Mangoes! That buttery yellow-orange flesh, with the smooth slightly sweet, slightly sour taste, and oh so delicious in its many forms. To me, mangoes are food for the Gods. Prior to my travels I always liked mangoes, but never purchased them or consumed them unless it was mango ice or mango salsa at a restaurant. Mangoes seemed strange and otherworldly with their strange pit to saw around and how did one actually know when a mango was ripe? After traveling I have become a mango addict. I would eat mangoes on an almost daily basis, especially because it was a "safe" fruit to eat. It is recommended when traveling in developing countries to only consume foods, fruits especially, that can be peeled. Bananas, mangoes, melons, dragon fruit…etc…is just a few of the fruits that are found throughout Africa and Asia that are peel-able and thus considered safe to consume raw.

My love affair with mangoes started in Africa, but was fully cemented in Asia. Throughout Se Asia on every street corner are fruit stalls, selling cut-up fruit that often comes with a sweet-spicy mixture to dunk your fruit in. For a dollar or less I got on a daily basis my fruit fix, which, when you are in tropical climates is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up snack. Other forms of mangoes that I consumed were in fruit shakes, over muesli and yogurt, or in lassi's (an Indian yogurt drink). I took mangoes in any way, shape, or form I could find them.

Now I'm home and sadly, my mango obsession has come to a screeching halt. There are mangoes in the states, I'm not saying there aren't, but honestly, they aren't quite as good. They aren't as sweet or smooth or succulent as the mangoes I consumed in Asia. I'm sure this is because mangoes are not frequently grown in the US and are brought from over long distances like Mexico, Hawaii, and the Caribbean, which will diminishes any foods flavor.

 A mango tree in Ghana

OK Clarissa, what is the point of all this rambling? Well, it is mango season! Mangoes are currently in season across the world! Come on, do a happy dance with me! Please? Pretty Please? OK fine, no happy dance. Instead, I'll show you how to cut up a mango.

First, go to the store and buy a mango, bring purchased mango home and put it in a bowl with some apples or bananas (if you have any). Do not, under any circumstances put the mango in the fridge. This is not good for the mango! It needs to ripen. Wait until the mango gives slightly when gently squeezed, kind of like an avocado.

Take the mango in your non-dominant hand and a paring knife or peeler in your other hand and begin to shave the peel off.

Once the peel has been removed take a paring knife and begin to carefully trim the ripe mango meat away from the pit. This is slightly awkward because the pit in an irregular shape and varies in size from mango to mango.

Don't be like me and place your fingers under the knife's blade. I didn't actually do this while slicing it, but in an effort to document the process needed an extra finger to steady with one hand and take a picture with the other. Remember, no fingers under knife blades, k? Promise me!

You can see a bit of the stubby pit. Don't eat it, it's not good, trust me.

Carefully trim away all of the ripe mango meat that you are able too until just the core remains.
Now, what to do with the core? Well, there's still plenty of tasty mango-goodness on there,but it would be very difficult to shave it off with a knife. What ever are you going to do? I have a suggestion. It's not particularly cute and should be done in the privacy of your kitchen, unless the image of you gnawing on a mango pit doesn't disturb you in the slightest, then go for it! Take the mango pit and using your teeth, scrap all the tasty mango from the pit until there is nothing left. Mango juice will run down your face, it's OK, you won't care at this point because the mango is just so darn good!

 This is what my mango pit looked like when I got done with it. See the teeth marks?

This is the amount of sliced mango I had from 3 mangoes. Unfortunately, mangoes do not have a high yield percentage, between shaving the peel and the irregular pit a lot of mango is lost. The good news is that there is plenty here to make mango salsa, smoothies, toss into salads or over yogurt, or just eat!

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