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Mango Slurp Fest

by Dianne Jacob

Fruits, Desserts, and Other Sweet Foods

Summer Volume: 2003 Issue: 10(2) page(s): 19

Yellow mangos were recently on sale in Oakland California’s Chinatown at bargain prices of around seven dollars for a cardboard box full. They reminded me of a childhood ritual I loved and called the Mango Slurp Fest.

In the 1960s, when I was growing up, much of the exotic produce we take for granted today was not available in local markets. This was a sad realization for my immigrant parents, who loved nothing more than ripe mangos. My dad and uncle decided to take matters into their own hands, they ordered one case of Filipino mangos from a produce vendor who was willing to do the transaction.

When the mangos arrived in their wooden crate, my dad brought them home and put them in the basement. My sister and I were not allowed to peek. The box was to sit there in the dark, the mangoes wrapped individually in tissues, and slowly, slowly, each one would ripen. I would sneak downstairs to smell the flowery tropical perfume that got stronger with each passing day. My dad would inspect them daily, turn the mangos over, gently press the flesh, and smell them.

Finally, on the appointed day, my dad decided that enough mangos were ripe. He called over my aunt and uncle. My mother spread the dining room table with newspapers and we all sat down. Then, my dad arrived with his golden treasures. He ceremoniously plopped them on the table. The mangoes were beautiful. They were fragrant, soft, kidney-shaped, some wrinkled, some with dotted black spots signifying over-ripeness. We didn't care. We cut into them and exposed their brilliant golden orange flesh.

Their heady scent filled the room. With newspapers catching out drips, our group ate them one after another, slurping them down and smacking our lips. The silky flesh was like a ripe peach, only firmer, tangier, sweeter, and more fragrant. We sucked the meat out from around the pits, wasting nothing. We ate as many as we wanted. Finally, we all leaned back contentedly, covered with sticky juice.

My parents repeated the slurp fest each year, until mangos were finally readily available in the markets. Today, I can not pass a yellow mango without remembering the smells and tastes of that very first event and those that followed. My salivary glands always respond. I exercised restraint and bought only four last weekend, and then two more and then two more even though there are only two of us at home to enjoy them.

If you would like your own mango slurp fest, you can buy mangos in the markets from now to September. Round mangos usually start out green and change to yellow with lovely red mottling. The kind we had were flatter and yellow.

Put your mangos in a paper bag and ripen them at room temperature. When they are ripe, and you can tell by the smell and softness, hold the mango upright and carve down along each side of the long, flat seed that traverses its length. Do not try to peel mangos first. If you do, they will be so slippery that you will chase them all over the kitchen counter. And do not bother with any embellishments. Just get out your spoon and dig into the two golden halves. It just does not get any better. And should any of the mangoes get overripe, do not despair. Make the following delightful and colorful dish.
Dianne Jacobs of Oakland has written about a broad range of topics for newspapers and magazines since 1975, including many about yummy food topics. These days, she is an editorial consultant, market researcher, guest speaker, and president of her county’s food bank board of directors.
Yellow and White Delight
2 ripe mangoes
1 and 1/4 cup sugar
4 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1. Peel mangoes and puree the flesh.
2. Dissolve two packages of plain gelatin in one-third cup cool water and set aside for five minutes.
3. Heat one-half-cup water and one-half-cup sugar, add the gelatin mixture, stir well, and when totally dissolved, remove from heat and add mango puree. Pour this into a square-shaped dish and cover and refrigerate for half an hour or until set and firm.
4. Dissolve the other two packages of gelatin in one-third-cup water and set aside for five minutes.
5. Heat two-thirds-cup water with three-quarters-cup sugar and add the gelatin mixture. When completely dissolved, add almond extract and milk and mix well. Refrigerate for fifteen minutes then pour over the already set mango pudding and refrigerate at least an hour before taking it out of the dish, cutting it into diamond-shaped pieces and serving it.

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