This month we are faced with a most delicious problem: What to eat first? After months of anticipation, Mango season is finally upon us. We look forward to the “king of fruits” for a large part of the year, waiting for that first juicy taste to signal the arrival of summer in south Florida. This is why we have our signature Summer Fruit Festival in June, this year on June 22-23, 2019. However, to focus solely on one fruit would do a disservice to the many other wonders that await you here at The Fruit and Spice Park—especially this year, for we are experiencing what almost amounts to an alignment of the planets. Everything seems to be coming ready at once!
I often write about Mango (Mangifera indica), and Lychee (Litchi chinensis) at this time of year because these two beauties go above and beyond in every category. Not only are the flavors and aromas complex and varied, they are endowed with physical beauty as well. The sight of a dark green Lychee tree heavily laden with bright red dots of lipstick colored fruits is a wonder second only to the burst of juicy flavor when you pop one in your mouth. And to try to adequately describe with mere words the sensory experience of a perfectly tree ripened Mango exceeds my ability. Suffice to say, it is a feast for the senses. I use the plural, senses, to encourage you to use all of yours—feel the shape and texture of the fruit, note the colors (bright blush is sometimes an indicator of ripeness, but not always!), smell the aromas, and of course taste the result.
Now to the other wonders that await! Since our list is so long, space so limited, and most of these have been detailed in previous columns, I will be brief. In no particular order of importance:
- Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) with its huge, fleshy fruits
- Mamey (Pouteria sapota), featuring bright salmon pink to red flesh—a batido favorite
- Cashew (Anacardium occidentale), few know the fruit–Cashew Apple– that accompanies the familiar nut
- Hog plum (Spondias purpurea) Another Mango relative also known as Jocote, Ciruela, and Mombin
- Wax Jambu (Syzygium samarangense) incredibly prolific, and seemingly infinite in color variation from pale greenish white to red to nearly black. One tree will feed a neighborhood.
And let’s not forget some of the spices, after all, we are The Fruit and Spice Park!
- Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) We are all familiar with this flavor
- Cacao (Theobroma cacao) Most don’t think of chocolate as a spice, but cocoa powder certainly is, as in Mole` sauce
- Vanilla (Vanilla) Another that most would not class as a spice, but it is used to impart a flavor to other foods.
I hope the reader will forgive this shallow dive into a very deep pool, as I hope you will heed my advice to use all of your senses—although I would urge caution. You see there is a very well-known Mango expert who some might say lost his senses and made a deep dive into a bathtub full of Mango, resulting in an iconic photograph that embodies this spirit. Discretion prevents naming this Mango maniac, but your favorite internet search engine will help you solve the mystery. Speaking of Mango Maniacs, don’t forget to join us at our annual celebration of all things tropical fruit, the Summer Fruit Festival, June 22-23, 2019, AND at the deep dive into all things Mango, Mango Mania! On June 29, 2019. More info at redlandfruitandspice.com I hope to see you all there!
Delicious Mango and Lychee Smoothie Recipe
1½ cup Pineapple, cut
1½ cup Mango, cut
4 Lychee Fruits, cut
1 cup Coconut Milk
Place the pineapple, mango, lychee, coconut milk, and in the blender. Puree until the texture is smooth. Then pour in a glass and serve!