The mango is a sexy product. You’ll notice I didn’t say it was a sexy fruit. That’s because mangoes are everywhere . . . in sensual mango lotion, in creamy mango hair conditioner, in mango body butter, in mango scented candles. Oh yes, and there’s mango in food too. Mango-pineapple salsa, mango crème brulée, mango jalapeño chicken sausage, mango-ginger-yuzu-peach infused tea . . .
When I was in sixth grade, the mango was unknown to many in the suburbs of Chicago. Undiscovered and unmarketed in mainstream America. The 1970s were a gloomy decade for aspiring foodies. One day in sixth grade, each of us was asked to talk about our favorite foods—and kids shouted out “pizza, ice cream, cheeseburgers!” The sophisticated eleven year-olds among us declared, “chicken a la king!” and “beef stroganoff!”
Finally, it was my turn. “Mangoes!” I shouted.
“And what is a man-go?” my teacher asked sternly, clearly irritated.
“It’s a fruit,” I revealed, trying to keep the duh out of my voice. Not only did everyone have a blank look on his or her face, but then my teacher narrowed her eyes and accused me of making it up. She looked me straight in the eye and said to the whole class, “There is no such thing. You made that up.”
The class laughed. ‘Nuff said.
Summer Fruit Salad
Lest you think that I’ve harbored some long-standing grudge against the mango and its meteoric rise to fame based on the story above, I protest otherwise. I always have been, and will remain, a devotee of this ostrich-egg of a fruit. And I am tickled that friends who were never exposed to the “man-go” now accept and eat the fruit with gusto. I also love that the influx of foods from pan-Asian, Hispanic, Caribbean and other mango-loving cultures has taught me how to broaden my own understanding of the fragrant mango.
A simple fruit salad is one of summer’s best creations. The recipe below is not a big salad, which means that it doesn’t offer a medley of 6 or 8 different fruits. It showcases the mango, and I am inclined to agree with the authors at Cook’s Illustrated who claim that “randomly hacked up” chunks of fruit do little to enhance the flavors of three or four complementary fruits. Use fruit that you like.
1 ripe mango
1 ripe plum
½ cup blueberries
The following sugar syrup is optional, and depends on the sweetness of the fruit
1 tsp sugar (more to taste if needed)
1-2 fresh mint leaves
1 tsp fresh lime juice, more or less to balance
Wash and cut fruit into uniform pieces. Combine. In a separate bowl, muddle mint leaves with sugar and lime juice. Remove mint leaves. Syrup should be light and balanced. Drizzle syrup over fruit. Toss to combine.
Summer Fruit Salad recipes can be found in the July – August 2007 issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine.