There is absolutely nothing more mouth-watering in that Spring to Summer transition than a Champagne Mango. I tend to favor these pint-sized juicy golden gems over other types of mangos, not only because of the word “Champagne” in the title (I’m a bubbly enthusiast, after all), but because they are truly the most luscious and most flavorful of all the mango varieties. These kidney-shaped delights are absolutely the “Champagne” of Mangos, though the yield be small, the pit annoyingly cumbersome, and then there’s the conundrum of how to slice it, which can be quite complicated.
Generally, I will beg my husband to do the honor of slicing the mangos for us, mostly because he’s terrifically good at it (well, this is what happens when your spouse has taken a “knife skills” class…you tend to leave the sous chef-ing to their skilled hands and therefore reap the benefits). Fortunately, he enjoys chopping and dicing almost as much as I enjoy consuming his choppings and dicings.
Mangos have always held a special place in my fruit-loving heart. My Mom and I are definite “fruities” (by the way, the “fruitie” came before the genesis of the “foodie” – I swear). I don’t know how or why it started, but when I was growing up, we used plop down “Under the Sink” (well, not fully under with the cleaning supplies, mind you, but just below the sink, and yes, on the ground). We’d lean back against the cabinet, chat, and eat fruit together. She’d prepare a mango, or a papaya with lime, or a mixed berry salad, and we’d sit on the floor and giggle at our odd tradition.
When we had fights, we would make up by talking it out “Under the Sink.” It was a place to make a peace offering, a place to cry it out over heartache, and a place to be quizzed on Civil War facts. Though many fruits journeyed with us “Under the Sink”, mangos were always my absolute favorite; the fruit that sticks in my memory most. Mangos were special: they came into season once a year and tasted just like candy. (Well, they tasted like candy to to a very candy-deprived little girl. For example, “carob” was presented as an alternative to chocolate. Nice try, health-nut parents.)
I have been unable to eat fruit for the past three years because of a stomach problem, but I’ve slowly been able to add it back in in small amounts over the past few months. Nothing can beat the freshness of a piece of fruit when it’s perfectly in season, especially when you’re not used to consuming sweet things. And this year, upon that first bite into that Champagne Mango…I don’t think anything could have tasted better.
Since we’re here obsessing about all things mango, I wanted to include my husband’s instructions on cutting a mango (he really gets the most out of those juicy little guys).
Also, because I do still occasionally need to talk it out with my Mom “Under the Sink” (albeit with cushions under our less-cushiony-with-age-bottoms), we might treat ourselves with…an adult Champagne Mango Cocktail! (Directions below.)
HOW TO CUT A MANGO:
- Get a sharp knife! (Highly important in this household.)
- Hold the mango so that the long, skinny edge rests on the cutting board.
- Visualize that the pit is only about 1 cm thick in the center so find a spot on the skinny edge facing up about half that distance from the center.
- Cut vertically on that line. If you hit resistance halfway through, try angling the knife away from the center to try to cut “around” the wide part of the pit.
- Repeat on the other side of the mango. You should now have two kidney shaped halves and the center section with the flat pit in the middle.
- Score the flesh of the kidney sections into a grid, like you would an avocado, doing your best to keep the skin intact.
- Flip the kidneys over and invert them so that the flesh pops out like a turtle shell.
- One at a time, use your palm to press the kidney as flat as you can against a cutting board so that the skin is flush with the board’s surface.
- With the knife flat with the cutting board, run the knife through the fruit flesh as close to the skin as possible.
- Repeat with the second kidney section.
- Get a high-five from the soon-to-be-mango-eaters.
- Grab the remnants of the kidney sections and the center pit piece and selfishly scrape off anything you can get with your teeth (so that you can offer more of the “pretty” fruit for your mango-eating loved ones, of course). Avoid scraping the exterior skin though since it is crazy-bitter.
- Revel in the neat little squares of sweetness.
SPARKLING MANGO MINT COCKTAILS (serves 6):
*1/4 cup crushed mint leaves
*3 cups Mango juice
*1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
*Add Sparkling Wine to taste (or fizzy water make it a virgin cocktail!) Our choice? Lexy’s Toast Brut Nature!
Crush mint leaves and lime juice until bruised. Place mint and lime in a container with the mango juice and leave to sit in the refrigerator for an hour. Remove, strain the mint leaves, and pour. Top with Sparkling Wine (to taste!), and add a wedge of real mango, mint leaves, or cucumber.