Friday, December 12, 2008

New tricks

Maybe this has happened to you too.

You’re meandering through the supermarket’s produce section, picking up the same old items on your shopping list, when suddenly you notice something you’ve never paid attention to before. Despite the fact that you’ve been ignoring this particular food item for years, you’re suddenly drawn to it.

So you walk over and peer at the mangoes. They look a little like oversized, swollen pears, with smooth yellowy-orangey-greeny skin. You pick one up; it feels heavy and a bit soft in your hand. It must be ripe, you think. It even has bit of juice leaking out of one end, so it must be ripe. You’re not really sure though, because you don’t know anything about mangoes.

You’ve read people on the internet for years, rhapsodizing about mangoes: how sweet and juicy they are; how you should eat them in the bath because they’re so messily delicious; how they’re the perfect dessert, all by themselves; how the ones available in Pacific Rim countries are so superior to any other kind. But you’ve never actually eaten one. Mango chutney by the gallon in Indian restaurants—yes. Raw, unadulterated mango—no.

Well, here you are in a Pacific Rim country. You should try a mango.

You buy one, take it home, slice off a chunk and eat it.

You do not experience food ecstasy. In fact, your first reaction is, “Is it supposed to taste like that?”

This is not a question you can ask just anyone. Luckily, before too long you have a phone chat with your very good friend S., with whom you can (and do) talk to about just about anything. In this conversation alone, you range from new ways of dissing people electronically to flawed reporting of adverse events in clinical trials, with extensive forays into books, movies, and food.

In the course of the food discussion, you get onto mangoes and mention your recent taste experiment, without offering any opinions. S., as always, puts her finger on it. “I don’t know, I’m not sure I like mangoes,” she says hesitantly. “They taste kind of…chemically?”

Exactly the word you’ve been looking for. Apparently they are supposed to taste that way. So, is it you, or is it them? Do you have some kind of genetic taste issue, like those unfortunate people who think cilantro tastes like soap?

You aren’t quite ready to give up yet, though. Perhaps further research is indicated. You noticed a different variety of mangoes yesterday, bigger and more orange than the one you tried. Maybe you should try those?

Maybe the nice people who read this on your blog will have some suggestions?


Cheryl A said... Best Blogger Tips

You'd never had a mango before? Wow.

We love mangoes in this house, the small yellow ones being our favourite because the flesh is sweeter and not so stringy.

I never would have described the taste as chemically... maybe it is the pesticides/herbicides? If you can source an organic one try again. You could also try grilling or broiling them to bring out the sweetness.

Pyrus said... Best Blogger Tips

Perhaps it's familial, because I loathe mangoes. LOATHE them. And I am not, as you know generally averse to fruit.

KJ said... Best Blogger Tips

RL, I think you've uncovered a trend here. I too have a mango issue. I think raw ones taste like feet (if one were to eat feet) but i LOVE grilled mangoes and make a mean mango salsa (it's David Ortiz's recipe..wooo!)

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Cheryl - Nope--not sure how I managed it, but there it is. Thanks for your suggestions.

Pyrus - veeeery interesting. Maybe it IS like cilantro!

KJ - Mmmm, mango salsa. Care to share the recipe?

Cheryl said... Best Blogger Tips

I'm allergic to mangoes! The first time I had one my tongue got all thick and itchy, and I haven't had one since...

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Cheryl - Bummer! I have the same problem with some kinds of stone fruits, although I can eat them if they've been cooked (?).

Zoe said... Best Blogger Tips

It shouldn't be mushy. It sounds like you had an overripe Kensington Pride, which is normally a very tasty variety. There is a slight "weird" element to the taste, a little bit metallic, sometimes.

The bigger, pinker, variety is probably an R2E2, which is sweeter and doesn't have that same taste element.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Zoe - thanks for this information. Armed with that newfound knowledge (so that's what 'KP' stands for!), I'll try again.

Zoe said... Best Blogger Tips

Further research! The pink one may have been a very pink Calypso, which I hadn't tried before. It has that menthol/eucalyptus note too - it's derived from the Kensington Pride.

And a happy new year to you and your family.

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