Monday, October 26, 2009

Still Life with Mango

July is peak mango season on St. Croix. Mango trees on roadsides and backyards are bright and fragrant with ripe fruit. In early July, the Botanical Garden hosts a Mango Melee, showcasing the 80 varieties of mango grown here on the island. By summer's end the harvest winds down and we all settle down to wait for next summer's crop.

Not so for my friends Brooke and Valerie. Their home, nestled on the hills overlooking St. Croix's north shore, has a lovely orchard and a mature mango tree that comes into season right when every other mango tree has called it a day. This tree is about 25 feet tall and is currently producing mangos the size of grapefruits. I don't know the name of this particular variety but these are truly the Rolls Royce of the mango kingdom. Plump and juicy, the flavor is a perfect balance of sweet and tangy. These mangos have made a mango lover of my husband, who, up to now, never gave a mango a second glance.

Yesterday Valerie told me that she was trying to rescue as many ripening mangos as she could before the birds and bats got to them. Bob and I volunteered to assist with the mango rescue. We saved a couple dozen mangos and a handful of sour oranges and mandarins that beckoned from nearby trees. Here's the bounty we just acquired:

I have visions of mango mousse, mango curry, mango salsa... but I suspect that as they ripen, Bob and I will devour these mangos fresh and unembellished.

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