A fellow Minnesotan co-hort member of mine recently reminded me of what I was missing at this time of year back home. No, she didn’t talk about any of the events I mentioned in my post about FOMO; rather, she talked of sweet, ruby red, fresh and juicy strawberries. Fact is Monday of this week was Independence Day back in the United States, and you were probably at a cabin picnic spitting watermelon seeds (reality check: that’s probably not what you were doing, partly because most watermelons sold in the US these days are seedless, and also because not that many people have cabins to holiday at).
There is watermelon here. I couldn’t begin to tell you when its season is. Likewise I’ve seen strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, but they are increasingly expensive in the order I listed them. I’ve purchased strawberries and raspberries only in frozen form for smoothies; I’ve never been willing to drop the money for blueberries.
What is in season right now: mango de azucar and mamones.
Mango de azucar season may actually be passing now; it was almost three weeks ago that I purchased a bag of 13 mangos for just $2,000 pesos (less than $1 USD) and I haven’t seen the mango guy pass with his cart as frequently. I truly wish this season would never leave. This type of mango is so much better than anything you fools are eating in the United States. Much smaller in size, as evident in the photo, these suckers have delightfully thin peels that are easy to remove without a knife, and small enough to just eat like a peach as you peel it. The peel is actually thin enough that I know some people just eat them, but they’re pretty bitter so I’m not into it. The texture is softer than that of larger red mangoes, and the taste is much sweeter. My only complaint is that, especially as you get to cleaning the pit in the middle of all the delicious meat you can, there are a lot of fibers that get caught in your teeth. These are my favorite local fruit so far.
While mango de azucar can kind of be related to familiar fruits, I don’t know if I’ll be able to accurately capture what mamones are. The first time I had them, my host sister had peeled all of them and doused them in lime and salt – I hated them. Really they were just limesalt vehicles, and terribly textured. When a student offered me a mamón whole about a week later, I accepted. It was almost a fun challenge at first – figure out how to open them, how to extract the fruit, and how to not waste the fruit. Basically you crack open the somewhat thick outer peel, and then suck the fruit out of the other half. I now know that with a lot of sucking work, you can get the pit much much cleaner than is shown here. Regardless, the pit is actually a very large portion of the fruit. The taste was subtle and sweet, almost berry-y. It sort of reminded me of lychee because it had that slimy texture and sweet taste. Since then I’ve had many more, and the most astonishing fact I’ve learned about these fruits is that while they are colorless, they stain clothes. Like permanentely. And primarily white ones. So watch out when eating them.
Truth is, I didn’t eat either of these on the 4th. Instead, I met a bunch of my Peace Corps Colombia friends in Cartagena and celebrated the freedom that we have
from in America by eating burgers at Hard Rock Cafe. You might say that we set off fireworks in the salsa dance hall, but that’s a stretch of a metaphor.