Is it cheating for a local food lover to embrace seasonal fruits and vegetables from a destination far, far away? In my mind, no, for a couple of reasons.
First of all, there are some types of produce that simply cannot be cultivated in our Minnesota climate. Are we to deny ourselves these pleasures simply because of a rigid eating dogma? There’s room at my table for all varieties of fruits and vegetables.
Secondly, at this time of year there are no local fruit alternatives. Even the supply of storage apples has been exhausted, and the first local “fruit”, rhubarb (which is technically a vegetable), will not be available for at least another couple of weeks.
Finally, and most important to me, I like to seek out whichever fruit or vegetable tastes best and is at its peak, no matter where it hails from.
Maybe I will be ejected from the locavore club for saying these things, but then so be it. I will be the one who is #winning.
|Two varieties of mangoes – Ataulfa on left, Tommy Atkins on right|
Mangoes are indigenous to the Indian sub-continent but are now grown throughout many tropical areas of the world.
This is where the beauty of global produce kicks in – Peruvian mangoes peaked a couple of weeks ago and now the Mexican mangoes are coming into their own. In the next few months, mangoes will also become available from Florida and California. According to Yum Sugar, April, May and June are peak months for mangoes.
Mangoes have a flavor all their own. If I had to characterize their taste, I’d say they are almost a cross between a peach and a pineapple, with a hint of mint. You can eat the peel, but most people don’t, as it has a bitter flavor. The texture of mangoes varies depending on the variety.
The most commonly available, familiar variety is the Tommy Atkins fruit with its red and green flushed skin. But there are other varieties as well, and I urge you to try them if you have the chance. Right now, my neighborhood food co-op carries a second variety, the Ataulfa, which has a greenish-yellow skin that changes to a more golden yellow as it ripens.
On the inside, these two mangoes look pretty similar.
However, the taste and texture is different. While the Ataulfa mango is creamy and sweet, the Tommy Atkins variety is more fibrous and tart.
Of course, the flavor varies depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Mangoes continue to ripen after they are picked. The photo below depicts two Tommy Atkins mangoes, but the one on the left was riper, lush and richer tasting, while the one on the right tasted more acidic and pineapple-y.
Mangoes can be tricky to cut up because of the large slim pit in the middle; you have to tackle the job in just the right way. Trust me, I know this from personal experience; when I was cutting into my first mango of the season, I forgot on which side to cut and ended up gouging the tip of my thumb.
In this video, the Mississippi Market produce guys offers tips on selecting ripe mangoes and demonstrate two methods for deconstructing this fruit.
Do you like mangoes? What’s your favorite way to use them?