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Magnificent Mangoes

In the US we think of apples, oranges or bananas as the most eaten fruits, but worldwide the mango takes the prize.  There is an impressive list of mango cultivars, most of which don’t make it to the US, but we do get a few good mango varieties, and the Ataulfo is one.

The Ataulfo originated in Indonesia but is now grown in many tropical regions worldwide; Mexico and Central America provide mangoes to the US. It is also known as the Honey or Champagne mango.  No matter what we call it, it’s notable for not being fibrous as well as for being fleshy and extremely sweet.

Interestingly, children who live in the tropics where mangoes are grown, eat them green in the same way that American children will eat unripe apples.  I admit, I wasn’t a kid who ate unripe fruit, so I don’t “get it,” but I’m sure there’s something appealing to it or it wouldn’t be so common.

The Ataulfo comes into season in late March in the US and is available usually into summer. It is ovoid in shape, with a flat seed and a yellow skin, which may have some green streaks or black speckles.  At the store where I work, the produce keepers carefully remove the ones that are getting soft and wrinkled as they aren’t as attractive, but this is actually when they’re at their best.

The skin is not edible and can sometimes irritate the mouth, so remove the skin and slice the mango off of the flat seed, which is shaped like the mango.  Or, forget cutting it off, eat it right off the seed. If it is very ripe, you’ll probably want to eat it over the sink like we do really ripe peaches.

There are some great recipes to make from mangoes.  I made mango sorbet last week — refreshingly delicious.  I have some left, which I’ll probably incorporate into a smoothie.

Another refreshing way to enjoy mangoes is to whip up a mango lassi. For those of you unfamiliar with lassis, they’re an Indian beverage.  If you want to spice it up, throw in a little cayenne or chile powder.

A truly Mexican style for eating mangoes is to peel the mango, slide a skewer lengthwise through the mango, sprinkle with chile powder and eat it outside.

If you happen to be fortunate enough to have friends in Florida or access to mangoes at a great price, you can make mango jam or chutney.  However, one of my favorite ways to use mangoes is to grill fish or poultry and serve it with a fresh salsa.

It’s dinner time and my mind is now tasting crispy grilled halibut with salsa.  I have some mangoes from work in the refrigerator and I’d make it when my daughter comes to visit tomorrow, but somehow I’ve managed to raise a child who doesn’t much care for most tropical fruits, most especially mangoes.  Go figure….

Patricia Rain
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