Friday, March 25, 2011

An Embarrassement of Mangoes

As I mentioned a few months ago I decided to join two online book groups, one I have posted about the last few months but the other, Cook the Books, I had not gotten a chance to do until now.  Of course, I am still posting on the very last day possible, but I enjoyed the chosen book “An Embarrassment of Mangoes” so much that I wanted to make sure to get one in this time.  Enjoy. To check out everyone else’s reviews and recipes click here.
Besides the fact that I stuffed my life, cat and husband into the car to move across the country with no actual plan set up I am not normally an overly adventurous person.  I like security and plans.  So, the fact that Ann Vanderhoof’s memoir “An Embarrassment of Mangoes”, seriously had me contemplating the merits of learning how to sail just so Rob and I could go live on a sailboat all over the Caribbean is a pretty good testament to how inspired I was by this book.  If I had not already made my move, this probably would have pushed me over the edge.    

Ann and her husband Steve made the major decision to leave behind their lives and successful careers in Toronto to spend two years sailing from Canada through the Caribbean.  Early in their plan making you get the feeling that this is more a push by Steve than Ann, Ann seeming to be the more schedule/plan oriented of the two.  But, once the wheels start turning they never stop and seven years after they first throw the idea out there they are sailing away from their jobs, friends and families towards a complete unknown that will leave them forever changed.   The woman that you meet at the beginning of this book is not the same woman that you leave as you close the last page, and every moment of her transformation will leave you wanting to make one of your own.

You will quickly get wrapped up in their adventures as they learn the ins and outs of what it means to truly live on a boat.  The space constraints and scary night sails are balanced by the fresh caught fish for dinner and the incredible community of fellow boaters that quickly takes them in.  Vanderhoof has a great ability to fully engage you in her life and you find yourself just as entranced by what they are eating for breakfast as their first experience at Carnival. 

Ann’s appreciation of food and her ability to cook under any circumstances (I can only imagine the size of her “kitchen” on the boat) make every edible moment of this book an adventure of it’s own.  Thankfully, from my point of view, there are lots and lots of edible moments here.  Each chapter is followed by a recipe, and each recipe will have you wondering which of the ingredients you can find where you live, so that you can try them out.

I changed what I would be making many times as I read this book and in the end I am trying a bunch of the recipes.  As I wandered through the market earlier this week my eyes caught on a Papaya, and immediately my memory was dancing through the pages of Ann’s book, papaya salsa, papaya banana muffins!  The fact that I have never even cut into a Papaya was thrown to the wayside as I thought about the amount of new foods that Ann and Steve tried on their adventure, if they could do it on their boat I could do it in my apartment.

Luperon Papaya Salsa
(recipe page 101)Which we served over swordfish alongside Bahamian Peas 'n' Rice (recipe page 64) and Steve's 'Ti Punch (Recipe page 149)

 1/2 Large Ripe Papaya, diced (about 2 cups)
1/2 Cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2 small red onion, thinly slice, cut into rings and halved
3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 small red hot pepper
1 lime, juiced
3 Tablespoons fruity olive
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine the Papaya, Cucumber, Onion, Cilantro, and Red Pepper.  Set Aside
2. Whisk together the olive oil and half the Lime juice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Toss with Papaya mixture.
3.  Taste and add lime juice accordingly.

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  1. I am so glad that you joined in and that you enjoyed the book. I think it had a similar effect on most of us--very tempting to sail away. ;-) The salsa looks perfect (I went with papaya too and did the muffins!) as does the swordfish and the rice. Great picks!



  2. I would love to try this recipe. Good papayas are almost as hard to find as good mangoes in my neck of the woods! Thanks for sharing and great review.

  3. The dinner menu sounds fantastic (swordfish is my favorite fish ;). Welcome to the club!

  4. How wonderful that her book inspired you to get into the kitchen. That's a true testament to good food writing. I can't wait to pick up a copy.

  5. sounds like a great book...any crossover of books between the clubs?

  6. I am getting inspired once again to try all the dishes in that book. Delicious choices for a wonderful meal you had.

  7. Used the leftover salsa to top a salad for my lunch and I am sure glad I did. Also made the Papaya-Banana muffins with an addition of shredded coconut that will be staying in my arsenal.

    Jude-no crossovers yet, but I will let you know.

  8. Thanks...I was curious. Love your blog btw.

  9. Papaya salsa is another favorite around here. We like the tropical fruit salsas for chicken and fish. You'll find as the summer approaches that cooking outdoors has a certain appeal! So glad to see you joined up with us!

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