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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mangoes, Mangoes and more Mangoes..Mangoes anyone!!!

Maagoes galore
 So recently (yeah, this past summer) I attended the mango conference at Fairchild Tropical Gardens boasting the theme "Mangoes from India". Albeit it was the first time I believe they were hosting this event I was more than intrigued to be attending. Of course I was going to see and hear two of our premier chefs in South Florida, Chef Allen and Chef Van Aken and the likes of Madjur Jaffery and Andrea Curto- Randazzo. Don't confuse this mango festival with the errant showing in deerfield festival that has nothing really to do with mangoes. Why would you want to cater and pander to such fraud, trust me, I would have been disappointed too to say the least. poppyshow!!!! No, here at the Gardens for this one weekend mangoes are king, mangoes rule. I thought that I had some fanatical lock on what i believe to be a magical fruit because I often tend to include this fruit in quite a few of my recipes - Mango gazpacho, mango guava punch, tamarind mango glazed salmon, etc. etc. etc. you get ehe picture. Boy, was i made to feel small here at this conference. Individuals here have such reverence for mango it is something to be desired. Represented were growers, importers, chefs, and people that just love to eat mangoes. You have one mango tree in your yard, please. Try 10, 12 or 15 trees and coming to the festival to get a few more. This conference taught me a lot and now have me doing a little more reseach. Tate a mango next time and ask yourself what you are tasting: vanilla, citrus, sweet, sour, tart, soft, firm. Do you know what type of mangoe you are eating? Kettit, Kent, Ford, Kuini, Tommy Atkins....Do you really care? wow!!! Do you know where they are from? Haiti, India, Dominica, Asia, Java, Sumatra, Mayanmar...Do you love indian Cusine? Mangoes play such a huge roll in the cuisne not to mention the culture. I am of the opionion that mango is a religion in India. It's a good thing they won't have to waste time converting me, I'm already there. Mangoes are big in India because the bloody things just grow well there, plain and simple. As big as mangoes are in India the rest of the world shares in this love affair. For us from the Caribbean we know bout and I am quite sure you have memories and that make a mango shine for you.
Plantain crusted scallops

I can't write about this succulent fruit without talking about some of my childhood memories. Summertime for me when I was a child meant mangoes, well maybe a bit more but you just had to be there to expereince the flava..that meant I was going to Nyam some mango til mi fool, till mi belly hot mi, till mi comatose and buss a sleep in a mango walk. Can we say a hint of mango colic. Listen me folks, you just have to be there to understand unless u grew up on an island like myself. See, I am not talking about eating an occasional mango and call it a day. First off, you couldn;t just eat one because there were so many varieties to choose from, of course we all had our favourites but who da hell was going to turn down free mangoes. Of course for most the king of mangoes was the East Indian, now known to me as a hybrid of the Alphonso mango from India. Then there was Julie, Bombay, heiden, number 11, blackie, stringy..goodness the list goes on. So picture this, it is summer, no school, ur hanging with friends or cousins if the parents sent you off to country to be rid of you for a few weeks and you're just liming in the trees. Breeze blowing and you and everybody else in the trees, sometimes tresspassing, eating mango after mango dropping skins and smoothly sucked seeds on the ground below. If you were one that was challenged by heights I guess this meant that you were at the mercy of your friends in the trees and you were relying on aim and skill from the throwing of stones, branch or whatever you could get you hands on. This was a skill that you developed and honed over the years whether for the mangoes or for some errant buss head for waring factions. But I digress for i know nothing about such evil doings, skullduggery and young bwoy madness:-)
See, sometimes that one lonely ripe and golden was just haging there where monkey treachery was off limits. As kids we were not concerend about any culinary samplings from the kitchen that offered up mango as the secret ingredient, for us straight off the vine a quick rub on your shirt or tear up pants and you were ready to make quick work of the jewel in hand. 

Chef Irie's Mangotini - Sexxy!

Tresspass you wondered. well when you passing by groves of trees that were not manned at the pass, the lonely ripe and goldens became fair game, but you had to snatch and grab with a quickness. so that meant stoning the fruits or have the best tree climber scurry up the trunk, align themselves with the most laden branches and shake furioulsy to separate the lonley ripe and goldens from their caretaker, the sappy heathenous vines. The bounty was thus stuffed into pockets or make shift pouches of twisted shirts. Now we have half naked scalliwags eating, chatting and laughing needing a bellyfull.
For the unfortunate souls who didn't have trees to raid or to pick them timely from the back yard, there was always the market. Lawd jesas, di baskit dem full a nutin but mango from all walks. The colors were dazling: green, yellow, gold, brownish red, purple, red, spotty it was all there. Then there was that intoxicating smell. Snnnnnnnnffffffff!!!! hot damn, man I could bax off two right ya now...Sclaaaaaaat!!!! Mango sale a gwaaan in ya to fenne....
Man, such memories..Now in my adult years and coursing my passion as a chef, I find myself engaging in those memories and wanting to bax off a dozen or two of any mangoes i can get my hands on, but my reality now says that I must watch my sugar intake because of dietary DNA constraints and the dreaded ring around the center so maybe two or three :-(. Yeah, and they have to be sweet too. I an I nah defend no fluxxy mango at all..dash weh dem deh!!!
My passion these days for cooking has allowed me enjoy the flavours of mangoes from a different perspective. It has allowed me to dream in 3D, layers and textural graphics, smooth sauces, napoleons, chunky soups, breadpuddings oh hell a mangotini, mango gazpacho and such the like. It is summertime afterall so for goodness sake make some delish mango tasties, make some delish something. Have you ever made a green mango chutney, a mango smoothie, mango anything? Try some of these out, a refreshing respit from the heat it will bring. It's Summertime!!!!

Plantain crusted pan seared scallops w/
 Jicama, Mango, Watermelon salad &
Mango soup

Chef Irie


  1. Great article Chef. Just wish mango was a year round fruit. I love the taste of mangoes but not a fan of the artificial flavours. That plantain encrusted scallops was a big hit.

  2. I would like the plantain crusted scallops please and thanks!!!