Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Mango Fork.

In times past, the perfect kitchen for the perfect hostess presumably then, as now, had a place for everything, which presumably means there was a lot more storage space than most of us have nowadays. I don’t know where I would put a collection of mango forks, if I had them, but then, I don’t really think I would ever use them. I did not know such things existed, until I read a little piece in the women’s pages of the Washington Post of June 26, 1924

In “Fruit Recipes” published nearly twenty years ago, one of the things said about the mango is this: “The fruit is truly exceedingly juicy ….but where the mango grows in the greatest luxuriance and it is properly understood and used one may procure the regular mango fork, a three pronged affair of which the middle prong is long and projected, so that the fruit will not slip.”
This was the kind of fork on which the first mango I had in Havana, Cuba, some weeks ago, was served, at a place where they ate and drank fruit, and forthwith I went hunting for some of those forks. The first I found were made by one of the leading makers of plate in the United States, but I kept up my quest to get the Cuban make and succeeded.
The Spanish buccaneers probably ate mangoes. In a 100-year old book on the West Indies, written by a woman, which I read some years ago to learn about the foods there, it speaks of the great variety of fruits and says of the mango: “It is certainly the most abundant. This fruit hangs in such thick clusters that the fruit of one tree is immense. There are many varieties, but the small ones are the best.” A small, delicate yellow one is mentioned, a coarse green one, etc.
Outside the tropics the mango is now mostly eaten by epicures, and two budded varieties, mulgobaa and Haden, are spoken of as the aristocrats of the family. “To the connoisseur these two varieties combine all the delicious flavors and aromas of the peach, apple, pear, cantaloupe, and pineapple, and, in addition, a delightfully spicy flavor all their own.

The mango fork certainly sounds elegant, but elegance seems incompatible with a completely satisfying, sticky, ripe-mango-eating experience. For those of you who want an elegant, mango dessert but do not have the correct forks, I give you a recipe for a mango fool, and for those of you in the tropics with a backyard mango tree and a yearly glut of the fruit, I give you a recipe for the dried and salted unripe fruit for use with your curries. Both recipes come from The Times of India, in May, 1934.

Mango Fool.
Pare, slice and boil the unripe fruit in sufficient water to cover it. Strain the pulp, which mix with the same quantity or more of milk (either raw or boiled) and sweeten it well with sugar (N.B. “The same quantity” means, a cup of pulp to a cup of milk.)

Mango Dried and Salted.
Slice four pound of hard unripe mangoe and dry them on a net in the sun for ten days, bringing them in before sunset. Make a strong brine of one pound salt and water, immerse the dried fruit in it, dry again in the sun. Use to acidulate curries.

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