How to Eat a Mango: Caribbean-Style
You would think this post would be instructional. But that’s just the point. Eating a mango Caribbean-style is so much less a serious relationship and so much more a memorable summer crush. You kina just have to go with the flow, or flow where you go.
In a hand-sanitized world that may not be prepared to lick some juice (however tempting) off an elbow, I’ll ask you to relax and read and try not to judge, cause as Jilly from Philly might say, a sister is about to ‘get dirty’.
The last time I went to visit my family in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, I inhaled about eight to ten mangoes daily. I mean that was food, and it was bread-basket-teaser, appetizer, entrée and dessert. Let it be known that sometime during that trip where eating, sleeping and limin was a mantra, I lost some seven pounds eating mangoes and feasting on my mother’s cooking! I’ve since regained that seismic seven, and miraculously lost it again (more on this later), but for the memory of eating mangoes on the daily, I’ll call it even.
When I went looking for a mango trail, so to speak, across the Internet, it was not because I needed assistance with the mango. Instead, I wanted to see if anyone had ever put into words the pure unadulterated pleasure of eating this mystic fruit.
Few went beyond the obligatory serrated knife.
“He took a mango from a bowl and peeled it with his teeth…”
I could go on and talk about the sharing of fruit between characters, but for the off-chance that I would get out of context with such pretext, I’ll let you read it yourself. All you need know is that reading Mr. Channer and his writer’s words, is much like devouring a mango: Caribbean-style.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that the world over has it ways and varieties with mango. And I particularly love the way my Trini brethren celebrate it. It was from them I discovered all the delightful ways to stew, salt (chow) and curry and season and chutney a mango to the point where my taste buds could identify every salty, sweet, sour (tart) and hot (peppery) flavor imaginable.
Thing is, I’m more often in the mood for the bare naked version, where there is limited prep, and far less room for culinary disaster.
Enter the mango, preferable a fresh picked one—any variety will do. And imagine your paradise. There is no clever chemistry in detecting ripeness. It’s about a feel (gently — there is such a thing as force-ripe) and a smell (go to town). Color has less bearing here than in the real world, and that is as it should be. The mango-pantone is rich, filled with green, red, purplish-red, yellow, spotted, or any combination of the above, and come in all shapes and sizes.
Take a bite. Eating a mango is elementary, Eden and ethos all at the same time.
So, if you’re standing there with your serrated knife ready to assault the skin and tender belly of a mango, use a lover’s heart and consider that your fruit may not be ready. Although, it does depend on whatever recipe you may have devised or be following to the letter. However, for those reading this strictly for the love of the mango, the only instruments you need are your hands, some courage and your imagination.
How have you enjoyed a mango lately? Serrated-knife-lovers may also apply. Live and learn I say. Live and learn.
ABOUT THE WRITERHi there, I’m Tynisha C. Leon, writer, West Indian, mango-lover, founder and Editor-in-chief of DASHEEN magazine — the online destination where culture feeds imagination. Join the culture chat on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr! If you’d like to contribute, drop me a line anywhere, I’d love to read/see your unique views! Bless up!