I enjoy cooking, along the same pleasure line of writing and gardening. A few weeks ago, Lauren mentioned that she’d been craving a dish I had made one time. She said it was crab cakes, but with shrimp, and a mango chutney. Heck if I remembered making that dish. A contract employee for the town brings in bags full of mangos from his property when they are in season. I love mangos, and have fixed them a bejillion ways. Local mangos aren’t height of season right now, but, I felt an urge to cook, and my daughter’s craving was incentive.
After going through my tried and true cookbooks, without landing on the crab cakes substituted with shrimp recipe, I went to google. I determined that the recipe referenced was probably one that I “altered” with the shrimp. Now on to the mango chutney. Lauren was quite clear about the ginger in the recipe. So I searched all mango chutney recipes for ones with ginger. I came up with one, and it sounded good., So, notes on an old envelope and off to the supermarket.
On this little island, there are two supermarkets. I like them both for different reasons. Today I would shop Publix. The Beach Publix is unique in many ways, but most noticeably, is the narrowness of the aisles. Land is premium on a barrier island, and Publix maximized use of available land. With grocery list in hand, I began the customary approach down the aisles. Must be spring training. Lots of folks in baseball uniforms. Lots of NY Yankees and Boston Red Sox and… I lost interest. I noticed more how difficult it was for a normal person to navigate narrow aisles.
I knew that buying mangos was critical, so I made my way down the first aisle picking up basic items, stopping at the dried and canned fruit to buy golden raisins (per recipe) and to find currants . Knowing the store layout better than the back of my hand, I went to produce. No point in buying anything else if there’s no mangos. SALE!! Mangos! 10 for $10,.00. I bought ten. I proceeded on, selecting various groceries items for the up coming week.
As I rounded one aisle, I saw a woman, friend, former neighbor who works there. We greeted and stopped to chat. She was cashiering the “ ten items or fewer” aisle and as we chatted she kept alert to upcoming customers. Seeing some, we quickly ended our chat, but not before I asked about currants. Yes, maybe in the dried fruits, but check with produce: they may have fresh.
I”d been all over hell and back looking for currants. After the umpteenth visit to produce, I saw a young man working produce. “ Can you help me?” I asked, Darn he was tall. And I recognized him Not sure how or why or where. The name Chris comes to mind. He’s a Beach kid. “ I’m looking for currants” I said. He looked at me like I had two noses. “I’ve been working produce for four years, and I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
As I went through the check out, the cashier asked, “darn. How may mangos?” and I said, “Ten! Ten for Ten!”
They engaged me in a conversation about mangos: how \to clean them, the toxins in the skin, how to cook.. Etc., I used my wallet and debit card to demonstrate the method of cleaning a mango!
The recipe calls for three to four pounds of mangos…. Peeled, seeded and diced. How the heck would one know that? So I cleaned mangos and diced the gorgeous fruit as my finger nails turned peach. Based on the proportions of other ingredients, seven mangos looked good..
I diced ginger and onions and garlic and added cider vinegar and raisins and cloves and salt. And brought it to a slow boil, and shut it down.
Lauren is my ultimate perfect taste tester. I can’t adequately taste test my own cooking. Over the years, Sarah and Lauren have responded to that need. Lauren is the best because she doesn’t placate me. Tonight was a great example.
The pot of chutney is simmering on the stove. I had a small cup scooped out to cool: the taste tester’s cup. I offered it to Lauren, and she began her magic “MMMmm; “ she said. “ It’s good. There’s one flavor…” I interjected, “Ginger?” “No, not ginger” she said. “ It’s a bit overwhelming.” She took another spoonful. “It’s good…” as she scooped another spoonful. I asked, “Is it cloves?” (knowing that only two spices made it into this recipe: ginger and cloves). “ That’s it!:” She exclaimed. “ The cloves….” Then she opened the fridge for …whatever reason teens open the fridge “Oh! Mangos!” she exclaimed, having spotted the three out of the ten that did not get sliced and diced for the chutney. “ I think you should add those..” Lauren’s suggestion was to add the three other mangos to the current chutney to absorb and balance the current spices.
So, I did. I cleaned the remaning three mangos and added them to the chutney.
Superb idea, superb suggestion! Before she went out tonight, I mentioned my conversation in the store about currants, and commented, “ I think you know this kid..” and she said, “Yeah.. Chris… just saw him the other night” (Beach Kids Rule).
Tomorrow? Crab and shrimp cakes with mango chutney, Fresh garden salad and Key Lime Pie!