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How Not to Slice a Mango

June 28, 2010

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.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 28, 2010 3:03 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I love mangoes and it’s mango season here at the moment. I usually slice somewhere between the pit and peel on either side as the website said and then slice it down the other two, now smaller sides, too. And then scoop the pulp out with a spoon and eat it. As for the pit, Indians usually get messy here and eat directly around the pit.

    Do I make sense? lol.

    I usually youtube things. I like to have visuals.

  2. June 28, 2010 1:40 pm

    I threw down the knife and picked up the mango and proceeded to…eat it like an apple.

    Hahahahahahahaha!

    A Bengali could live on mangoes FOREVER. We have two boxes of them in the fridge – the best sweet ones I find are the Pakistani ones. Nom nom nom nom.

    How we eat, most of the time:
    – Peel like a potato, but lightly so you don’t lose too much mango to the peeler (you definitely can’t eat the skin, it’s not tasty at all – v bitter)

    – If you lay the mango on your cutting board on its wider side, then slide a paring knife (not a serrated one!!) around where you estimate the pod to be (with one palm lightly on the top to stop it moving), you should be able to take a big wodge of mangoflesh off in one. If you move the knife slowly, you can almost ‘feel’ around the pod and just go over it.

    – Flip it over and do the same to the other side.

    – By now, you should be able to see the pod, and you can slide the knife down the other two sides and get two more narrower strips.

    – Chop them all into pieces!

    – Suck on the pod like a BIG SWEETIE. Nom nom nom. Alternatively, squeeze all the juice and flesh off it, and mix up a milkshake!

    Another great way to enjoy it – this is with really ripe soft squishy ones – is to roll it between your palms, softening and pulping it inside its skin. When it’s as squishy as you can make it – wash it thoroughly first – make a small hole at the top of it and suck out all the mango-goodness, like you’d suck on a straw. Squish it around some more as it begins to dry up. Then, when there’s nothing left but skin ad pod, rip the skin open and chew on the pod. Nom nom nom.

    Yup, Indians get messy! it’s the best part! Mango juice dribbling down your chin etc.

    • James permalink
      July 2, 2010 1:25 am

      Hey Saya, I’m going to have to try the drinking idea, but like you said I think its going to get very, very messy! Have you tried Philippino mangoes? I find they’re the sweetest ones but they’re very hard to get over here.

      Haha in our family we fight over the pod (unless we get a whole mango each) since its obviously the best bit!

    • July 2, 2010 1:13 pm

      So do we! We call it the ‘bara’, and when we were kids, it was the most exciting thing EVER to be given the bara to eat.

      I think I’ve only had the Subcontinent and Arabian mangoes – I prefer the Pakistani ones. They’re the small yellow very sweet ones. Where can you get Philippino ones? (Also, Filipino? Philippino? Which is right?)

  3. Rivenheart permalink
    June 28, 2010 7:12 pm

    Our most recent attempts at eating mangoes have been a little confused as well, but I think we may have come up with a reasonably neat way to do it.

    1) Slice a huge chunk off as close to the pod as you can get.
    2) Take the chunk and with your knife, slice a grid into the fruit of the chunk without cutting through the skin
    3) Turn the chunk inside out (which you should be able to do with the grid sliced into it– something about the physics of it all)
    4) Suck the chunks off with your mouth. This is the part where things get a little messier, but I think it tastes lovelier when it’s a little juicy and messy.
    5) Repeat on the other side of the pod
    6) Slice off any other leftover chunks and depending on the size of the chunk, either slice a grid or just proceed to sucking off the meat.

    Of course, this is obviously not a very authentic way of slicing a mango, but it works well, especially if you want to share the mango with anyone.

    I very much like Saya’s idea of squishing it around in the skin and then drinking it! It sounds FABULOUS!!!

  4. Zpurpleify permalink
    June 28, 2010 10:18 pm

    I’ve found that smelling a Mango helps to determine whether it is soft or not…Ok you may look a little stupid standing in the Fruit section of the supermarket smelling Mangoes but, believe me it works. My sis told me to try it and yes, it’s a winner… I LOVE mangoes, my dad is a master when it comes to them, doesn’t let anyone else cut them, he’s head chef when it comes to them in our house… And one other thing, I don’t know why, but the Mangoes in our family always get soaked incold water for a couple of hours before we’re going to eat them, I think I may google it to find out. Enjoy!

  5. June 29, 2010 7:55 pm

    I didnt like the book “Serving Crazy with Curry”. Did you?

    • June 29, 2010 7:59 pm

      I am only halfway through it (literally, I just hit 50% or so today on my Kindle), but I like it alright so far. It took me awhile to get into it because the writing style at the beginning struck me as quite stilted, but I’m enjoying it now. I’ve heard here and there that the ending is disappointing, but I don’t actually know what happens for the rest of the book yet, so I’ll wait and see. Because of my misgivings on the writing style (and because of not having a lot of money, even for Kindle-cheap books), if I do read anything else by Malladi, it’ll be from the library.

      • Allumer permalink
        June 30, 2010 4:19 pm

        I was wondering (kind of off topic here) if the success of books like The God of Small Things a decade ago, with it’s really rich, tropical, descriptive language has made other Asian/Indian writers feel that sort of dripping with metaphor and mango juice language is what people expect of them, being Indian. I’ve read several books now that seem to be emulating that style that would have been really good had they not seemed, as you say, stilted, or mired in a voice not their own.

  6. June 30, 2010 11:22 pm

    @Allumer

    Good question, and I’m not really sure about the answer. I guess that could be said of some other Indian writers, but that’s not what I meant by stilted in Malladi’s case. She constantly tells instead of showing and there’s so much overbearing description that could have been cut. There are just some scenes where I feel like she’s beating me over the head with what she wants me to take away from it by constantly repeating what the characters are feeling, rather than putting them in situations that -illustrate- what they’re feeling, if that makes any sense. Mostly it’s just stuff I would chalk up to poor editing and scene crafting. When I first started reading I almost put the book down because of it, though – because some of it is stuff I’m absolutely astounded survived to publishing. There are lots of other things that are good that keep me reading – it’s not a horrible novel or anything like that, it has plenty going for it – it’s just that the prose is clunky in a lot of ways. I also don’t see the “dripping with metaphor” issue for the most part in Serving Crazy with Curry, but I have seen it in other Indian/Indian-American novels. (Then again, I could be wrong…it’s been awhile since I’ve read Roy’s novel.)

  7. July 2, 2010 6:32 pm

    I love mangoes!!! Truthfully, I hadn’t known about the red and green mangoes until I came to America, because growing up in the Philippines I had always dined on the yellow and sweeter champagne mangoes. But either way, they’re both delicious! For me, I’ve always been slicing my mangoes in to three sections: 2 sections would be cut from both sides surrounding the pit, and then I’d eat those with a spoon (or cut criss-cross sections and pop them out, which is always more fun). Then I’d eat the third section, which includes the pit, by simply biting the fruit from around the pit, sort of like how you would eat an apple or corn on the cob. But this is how I eat champagne mangoes, so I’m not sure how they would work with the green and red ones.

    Good luck on your blog, I am so entertained by it!

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