How Not to Slice a Mango
I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. – Thomas Edison
I’ve always sort of been fascinated by mangoes (a fascination that was only spurred on by reading SARK!’s Eat Mangoes Naked: Finding Pleasure Everywhere and Dancing with the Pits, one of my favorite self-help books). I think I may have eaten presliced mango before (although on second thought that was probably papaya) but never sliced it myself, and I was at the grocery store recently, and they had mangoes three for $1. So, on a whim, I grabbed two.
As I frequently do when I’m trying a new cooking technique or if I’ve forgotten one I should already know (seriously, I’ve Googled “How to boil eggs” so many times it’s embarrassing), I looked up “How to slice a mango.”
According to the websites (of which there are many), color is not a good indicator of ripeness in a mango – so no help there in choosing between my one red mango and my one green mango. Drat.
Texture, however, supposedly is – if the mango is slightly soft when you press on it, it is supposedly ripe. (Here the websites mentioned that mangoes are like avocados in this way, but since I have never sliced an avocado, I was still sadly bereft.) Score! Red mango was hard to the touch, but green mango was slightly soft!
Here it got rather complicated. Some websites say to peel the mango first, while others have complicated diagrams and photographs about ways to slice the mango so you avoid the pit and have nice flowery chunks sprouting up from the skin (which, apparently, is not meant to be eaten). Most start with the instruction to slice down the mango on either side, slicing around the pit. (With a serrated knife, because apparently that matters?)
I sort of went half for half. I sliced down both sides of the mango, but noticed that neither the skin nor the meat of the fruit was coming away from the pit. At this point I began to wonder if my mango, was, in fact, ripe…but since I’d already cut into it, there was no going back. So I took a deep breath and started peeling.
My only referent for peeling mangoes is peeling potatoes. I don’t peel apples when I eat them, and I can’ t think of any other food I eat that requires peeling, so…for better or for worse, I peeled the mango like a potato. Unfortunately, I then just had a big yellow blob that was still somewhat hard and not as juicy and messy as the websites say it should be.
At this point, I was pretty certain my mango was not, in fact, ripe and that I had Screwed Up. I then took it into my room, knife and all, so that my roommates would not witness my culinary disaster.
I tried to slice around the pit. Really, really I did. But everywhere I sliced, I ran into more pit. Finally, having decided serrated knives are my enemy, I threw down the knife and picked up the mango and proceeded to…eat it like an apple.
Verdict? Surprisingly tasty, but without being sure of what ripe mango is supposed to taste like, I’m going to guess that yes, my mango was underripe. (And I’m going to be watching that other mango like a hawk til it softens up.) All those people that say mangoes are too messy are silly, in my opinion…it was definitely easier than eating an orange, and far more interesting (and with less seeds!). Also, mango slicing websites are all off their rockers. They can’t even post clear instructions, and anyway, mangoes are meant to be eaten like apples. With your hands.
In other mango-related news, check out The Mango Season by Amulya Malladi. I’m dying to read it. I’m currently halfway through another of her books, Serving Crazy with Curry, which I may or may not finish and post about in a timely fashion. I guess it depends on how long it takes me to try and slice that other mango properly before I just give up and attack it full force.