Monday, June 14, 2010
So, yeah. This is me. "What an unflattering photo!" You might think. And yeah, it's pretty horrendous. But I don't care. Because I'm eating a mango.
I think that instead of everybody reading Michael Pollan (I mean... do read Michael Pollan and Wendell Berry and all those fun people) and having those people try to really slow down to eat, all people - allergic ones aside - should be given a mango and a knife. And maybe a sink or a tub or something.
Do you ever look at children, or even animals eating fruit and get a little bit envious? They way they just don't care, they love the food so much they kinda rub it on their heads or shove their faces into it? They are seriously relishing, reveling, and rioting in their food. We don't really do that anymore as adults in such a privileged country. Except when we eat mangoes.
You see, my friends, there is not a very good way of efficiently chopping up a mango. Mango pitters are just stupid; you really need to feel out the tasty portions near the pit with your teeth anyway or else you get some bitter, fiberous crap that makes you angry and gets stuck in your gums. The best way I know of to eat a mango is to slice off lobes from all four sides, then slicing a tic-tac-toe board into the fleshy side not quite to the skin. You then push at the center of the lobe from the other side, making it go from concave to convex, and the squares of mango extend and present themselves for eating.
Generally, it's easiest to eat this part with two hands. You can just nimbly grab the cubes with your teeth and pull them from the outer skin and you get delicious, sweet mango. Peeling with a vegetable peeler is okay, but you have to peel it about a thousand times over because there is a visually imperceptible layer under the skin that is still bitter, but looks like the tasty mango goodness. After eating all four lobes, you have a piece of mango that's shaped like a long shoebox. You look at it longingly, knowing the pit isn't really that big, and there's all that tasty mango left. Slicing it would be time-consuming. So, you pick it up with both hands, and just start gnawing at it, letting the tender parts tear gently from the pit and slide into your mouth. By this point, you should have mango on your cheeks, juice running from your palms to your elbows, and maybe a tiny fleck of mango on your nose.
You cannot ignore the mango at this point. Eating a mango is an attention-consuming, sense-engulfing, golden-juice-dripping process. You need to devote all of your concentration to eat this succulent thing. You can't check Facebook while eating it, unless you want your keyboard to be a sticky ant-incinerator (my laptop gets very hot). You need to be vigilant or the naked mango will go shooting from your slippery hands. Speaking of hands, eating a mango takes both of them. It takes a bit of time. It creates a great amount of enjoyment: the creamy, floral aroma; the clean, sweet taste with a hint of grass; the happy-colored fruit; the sheer hedonistic pleasure of taking food into your bare hands and putting it straight to your face. How can anyone be oblivious to a food that looks like sunshine and gets all over your upper body in the process?
More brazen than peaches, but with a similar satisfying, juicy ripeness, and less organized and chaste than an orange, mangoes are the symbol of happy, unabashed, carnal nature. A mango is that girl whose slept with everybody, but genuinely and consummately loved each of her companions. She's never been the prettiest or the most proper, but has always been the most fun. She forgets her purse everywhere, but all it has in it is lipstick, firecrackers, and cab fare. However, she remembers everybody's name, and never fails to pick flowers for every lonely person. The mango is tender, bright, hefty, and sensual.
Thanks, mangoes, for helping us understand the slow food movement.
Rule: Eat mangoes only with your hands and a knife. Also, throw out your mango-pitter if you have one. They're so silly.