The first time I ate mango, I swore that I would never eat it again. As a fifth-grader, my tastes were specific (I only eat salami sub sandwiches from New York Sub on Asbury Street) and somewhat limited (I will not eat fried things, mayonnaise or salsa of any kind). Somehow, my father got his hands on a ripe mango and he and my mother dug into the fruit, exclaiming at its color and sweetness, recalling how people would sell piles of the fruit next to the roadsides during mango season in Hawaii in the early 1970's.
Watching this, I was curious, but cautious. Already the knife had sliced open the rind. Already I could smell an exotic aroma.
Tasting the mango, I was repulsed. It was not sweet like a strawberry. It was cloying and gave me a headache. No more, I thought.
Tastes, or at least preferences, change. My first week in Florida happened to fall right at the end of mango season. My mother-in-law had paper bags of the ripe fruit on her kitchen counter, brought to her by her cleaner Lenieve, whose friends had trees bowing with fruit in their backyards. I ate the mango and enjoyed it. The sweetness no longer registered as cloying. The Florida mango's yellow flesh was pleasantly soft, with an almost floral taste. Since that week, I've eaten tons of the fruit.
This weekend, I found this green mango salad recipe in this month's Food and Wine Magazine. Unlike ripe mangoes, green (or unripe) mangoes have a tangy, vegetable crunch. The mangoes must be unripe to give the salad its intended tartness and crispness. If you have mangoes at your grocery store and can tolerate a little jalapeno, I suggest that you give this a try.
Green Mango Salad
Adapted from this Doris Esther Ayola Orozco recipe at Food and Wine
2 large, unripe mangoes (they should be hard and green), peeled and cut into 2 x 1/2-inch sticks
1/2 large, sweet onion, sliced lengthwise into thin half-moon strips
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a bowl, toss all of the ingredients together. Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and chill for up to an hour before serving.