The Spice Necklace Blog

Ann's Blog

St. Lucia & Dominica:
June 5, 2010
Mango Season

A sure sign that it’s mango season: We’re eating them twice a day on Receta. I just finished slicing a plump Tommy Atkins for breakfast. (Smooth-fleshed and very juicy, the Tommy Atkins has an unassertive flavor with a background citrus note. At lunchtime, I’ll switch to a Julie, which is somewhat less juicy but has a richer, sweeter flavor.) And as I love to do this time of year, I stand over the sink afterwards and suck every last shred of remaining fruit from the flat seed. Hand-and-face wash required afterwards.

“What a shame,” a St. Lucian said to us the other day with sadness in his voice. “There are so many mangoes right now, they’re rotting on the ground.”

I understand perfectly. Two weeks ago in Dominica, we hiked from the village of Capuchin to the village of Penville at the north end of the island along the Waitukubuli National Trail, a 14-section, still-under-construction, cross-country walking trail. Parts of it were covered in just-fallen-from-the-tree mangoes – so many that it was impossible to walk without squashing them underfoot. What a shame indeed. We picked up some perfect, unbruised ones for an early-morning snack, cutting slabs off the seed, cross-hatching the flesh, and scraping the cubes of sweet flesh off the skin with our teeth. (Go to my mango chow recipe to see this mango-eating technique.)

Messy but good: Snacktime on the trail

As the hike progressed, I couldn’t resist picking up more to fill the pockets of my backpack – weighing how many mangoes I really wanted to carry for the rest of what turned out to be a five-hour hike. (This section of the trail – ranked as a “moderate” hike – is supposed to take only three-and-a-half hours – but we managed to dawdle it into five.) Steve couldn’t help – his backpack pockets were already stuffed with “stinking toes.” (More on these in a couple of days.) I mourned the thousands of perfect mangoes I had to leave behind.

How green was my valley: The Capuchin trail gave us gorgeous views and........
capucinhikemango_blogphotovert embarrassment of

Mangoes aside, the lush trail yielded pleasures along its entire length: splendid views; fresh bay leaves (which joined the mangoes in my backpack); sightings of giant land crabs, zandolis (tree lizards), beautiful blue ground lizards, a (harmless) black-and-white snake, called the kouwes; and a chance to chat with a family cultivating tannia – a starchy tuber that’s a staple of Dominican cooking – on the steep slope that borders the trail. The Capuchin to Penville trail isn’t just for recreation; it’s used by farmers to get to and from their plots of land. The family we passed on the trail has flour sacks full of just-dug tannia ready to hoist on their heads and carry home to Penville. And I was worried about toting a few extra mangoes?

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