Friends it is almost that time. And you don’t want to miss it. So prepare thyself. I personally missed the Magnolias blossoming at the botanical garden and I think I blinked the day the cherry blossoms occurred because my street already looks like a pink volcano erupted. But I’ll be damned if I miss my favorite culinary part of spring (and god damnit it is not ramps). So what’s a gal like me wait for so impatiently?
Good fruit is sexy. It’s living flesh that you take a bite of and you get to savor it’s juices as you try unsuccessfully to keep them from running down your chin. You become giddy with embarrassment as you lick your lips to keep all its juices and bits to yourself but your sticky hands betray you. When I was little we would get a crate of the most delicious oranges sent to us from some relative living in Florida…oranges like none you’ve ever had before and our mother would make us eat them standing in the bathtub or outside that’s how juicy they were.
I did not get a chance to experience this phenomenon again until the summer of the Indian Mango in NYC. Do you remember this? A few years back when the ban on Indian Mangoes was lifted, NYC was overrun by the whisper of a sexier version of our standard mango…our seemingly ubiquitous summer fruit. Suddenly people who would never normally dream of heading further north of 14th street in Manahattan actually braved the wild and wily subways or rented a zip car to get to the exotic borough of Queens for these previously banned candies of nature. Yet they were in such demand, and as luck would have it supplies so low…the price would get jacked up. And we thought it was expensive to have the black market Indian Mangoes smuggled in from some dude’s suitcase!
A mango! Mangoes are not rare or exotic anymore. Or at least they aren’t supposed to be! You can find them year round in delis. You no longer need to travel to Mexico to take a long stroll hand in hand with a lover only to have the fruit fall from it’s tree and plonk you on the head (clearly a sign of a doomed relationship). It’s a treat served on a stick at Coney Island. It’s served chopped (now so easy thanks to Slap Chop) on top of ice cream, and it’s in margaritas and mojitos everywhere. So, when my chef at the time says he has this super sexy new dessert, the last thing I think he’s going to tell me it is…is a mango.
I repeat: A mango. From Queens. Well…ok not really from Queens. From India. But found in Queens. And it’s really really expensive (for fruit) which we all know means it’s good. But really, it is the best, juiciest mango ever. And when I ate one, I had to run over to the kitchen’s prep sink at work to keep the juices from running not just all over my hands and chin, but from the floor! Seriously, after eating this mango…even the tip of my nose was sticky…that’s how juicy it was.
Chef would take these mangoes and slice them haphazardly, and toss them with honey, pickled chilis (pickling since the end of the previous summer) and lime and salt and a tiny bit of champagne vinegar. And, that was that. It was so freaking amazing. Ever since, it is something I try to recreate myself on an even more humble simple level. Although this was already a pretty simple dessert my favorite thing he ever did with these mangoes was one night a Chef Friend of his was in our restaurant on a date. They were so enamored with eachother that they didn’t want to stay for dessert. So, Chef packed a bag for them containing: one mango, one lime, and a tiny ramekin of this honey-chili sex sauce. He told them to go home and eat it.
I always imagined they had it for breakfast the next morning.
Moral of this story? Any minute now, the Indian Markets (Patel Brothers in Flushing!) in Queens will be selling these amazing mangoes…until supplies run out. Yes, they’re expensive. But you know, mangoes bruise easily so we need to pay for them to fly first class. No, really. Who cares? Go to queens! Find the Indian mangoes! Buy a case! I know you don’t want to go to queens. No one does! That’s why the mangoes are so damn expensive. Go there. Get mangoes. Eat them in your bathtub! Be happy.