July 2, 2007

The Bonding Power of Mangoes

My best friend, Miss D, was in town for a few days over the weekend. We've been friends since the end of my first year of teaching, and have grown close enough over the years that she is basically a a big sister to me. She's older, wiser, and can fix stuff. She's spent time with my family, and I've spent time with her family, mainly on Thanksgiving. We've been friends so long we have our little rituals when we get together.

Miss D and I we used to hang out with a couple of other single women (before I wasn't a single woman), and when we'd all get together for a barbecue, I was always responsible for two things: blender drinks and mango salsa. In fact, we've had many spring breaks and vacations where those were the main staples--with a lot seafood added.

Even now when we get together we might do a blender drink, but there is always the expectation of mango salsa--no matter if it's mango season or not! Yea, try finding ripe mangoes in rural northern Nevada in January! I'm the only person I know who makes mango salsa, and when I first offer it to people, including my own family, it is not well-received. I understand that some people do not like sweet salsa, but they are usually prejudice because it sounds weird. However, once people try it, they find they like it, and I find I haven't made enough!

So, here's my basic recipe that I've been using for about 10 years, but I don't remember where I originally found it.

2-3 mangoes, peeled and diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 jalepaño, finely chopped
1 lime, juiced
1/2-1 tsp cumin, or to taste
1 tsp cinnamon

The directions? Mix it all up! It tastes best if you make it ahead of time and let the flavors mingle. I'm not sure exactly how much of the spices to put in, as I just shake it out.

Now, as I said, it's a little interesting trying to make salsa on demand when mangoes aren't available, or if they're too expensive. Over the years, we've made variations in our bumbled efforts to pull off a seasonal dish out of its season. I'm not going to say they were great, but we were desperate:

  • Most of the year, mangoes can be found, but often there are only a few, and not all of them are the correct ripeness. We've picked the best one possible and used diced strawberries and pineapples to fill out the rest of the dip.
  • I forgot the jalapeño once, but I'd already started drinking from the blender, so I used dried red peppers.
  • Miss D and I forgot the lime, and she had no lime juice. It would have been doable, but it was in the winter the mangoes were not juicy. She did have some key lime yogurt, so we used it instead. Creamy salsa?
  • No cumin? As if! We've left it out or used all-purpose Mexican seasoning.
Luckily, this weekend mangoes were readily available at the market, and they were so sweet and juicy! We didn't barbecue this weekend. I made some up before she arrived, knowing that we'd want some before the weekend ended. In true girlfriend pig-out form, we ate the whole bowl with some tortilla chips, calling it lunch.

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