The Spice Necklace Blog

Ann's Blog

Hog Island, Grenada:
January 30, 2012:
Tackling a mango:
What would Dwight say?

Since mango season doesn’t really start until around June, I’ve been surprised to find sweet, juicy mangoes already available in the St. George’s market. As usual when I’m surprised/curious/confused about anything Grenadian, my first line of enquiry is to our fishing friends Dwight and Stevie. Dwight attributed the early mangoes to the abundant rains this year – the hills are still lushly green here, even though it’s supposedly two months into the dry season – and immediately began singing the praises of the tiny “starch” mangoes (that’s the variety) Stevie brought him one day recently. “Sweet, Ahhnnn, sweet.” But mangoes need both a pronounced rainy season and a pronounced dry season, so it’s more likely that Stevie’s explanation – that there are always some mango trees bearing at this time of year – was closer to the truth. Whatever the reason, I’m happy to take advantage of it.

A couple months ago, my friend Christina called my attention to an episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, entitled “The Theft of the Royal Ruby.” She thought I’d enjoy it because it shows Poirot demonstrating the correct way to cut a mango. With his usual fastidiousness, Poirot places the mango on a china plate, and then dissects it using knife and spoon. His technique is a variant of one of my own ways to approach a mango – cutting a slab off each side, cross-hatching the flesh with the point of a knife, and then bending the skin back so the cubes of fruit pop forward, ready for nibbling – though Poirot goes about it a lot more meticulously than I do. “Voilà,” he says, wiping his hands with a linen napkin as he finishes. Watch it for yourself. The mango part starts at 3:58:

I haven’t shown the video to Dwight – who easily eats a half-dozen mangoes a day when they’re in season – but I can pretty well guess how he would react. “Madness,” he’d proclaim, shaking his head mournfully.

I’m sure he’d also proclaim “madness” if I showed him a kitchen tool I learned about this summer: a mango splitter. “Ahhhnnnnn,” he’d say (I’m almost certain), “why anyone need that?” (I’d be hardpressed to explain it to him, since I don’t have one myself – no room on Receta for kitchen gizmos that do a job that can be easily done by a more versatile tool, like a knife – especially if I showed him this video, parodying the, uh, usefulness of the mango splitter:

To tackle a mango, Dwight requires nothing except his teeth. He bites into the top, strips the skin down with his teeth and sucks every last bit of fruit off the seed. Afterwards, he simply dips his hands in the sea to clean up. Voilà.

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4 comments on “Hog Island, Grenada:
January 30, 2012:
Tackling a mango:
What would Dwight say?

  1. Can’t wait for mango season

  2. Natalie on said:

    Brilliant. Your writing always takes us there, Ann, and what a wonderful world you inhabit. Do enjoy those mangoes, we are nothing if not jealous, but in a nice, pleased for you way.

  3. Ann, I just finished reading your wonderful book An Embarrassment of Mangoes, with much enjoyment. However, I was curious as to how you and your husband slipped back into the ‘regular’ life you had before leaving, as you guys seemed so sad to be coming home at the end of the book. Having checked on Google, it appears you two have done just fine, heading back out I see!
    ps- I have been a sailor for 25 years [nothing offshore] and the sailing you describe in the book must have been challenging, exhilarating, scary and incredible, sometimes all at once. Thanks for a great read….

  4. Ken and Lynn on said:

    Loved that Poirot clip Ann. We were gifted with one of those slicers but it was a finger hazard in the locker. Unfortunately for Ken, diving face first into the fruit isn’t possible. The skin and adjacent flesh contains some kind of material that causes a severe allergic reaction to his lips. He’s now content to scoop it out with a spoon. :-(

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