I’ve been using a butternut squash as a doorstop for the past month now. The thought of peeling it is filling me with such a sense of ennui that I just stare at it existentially as it allows the breeze to pass through the kitchen, wafting a sense of unfulfilled potential with it.
The temperatures the past week have been hotter than Lahore; possibly. And when the summer sun gets that hot in London, when we actually have to stop moaning that we never get decent summers anymore and the entire city is caught by surprise, as if we have never seen such weather, everything slows down to a glacier’s progress. But for the icy chill that would bring.
Still, never fear, Wimbledon is here and that means two weeks of solid rain. We can return to grumbling and complaining about the wet. It somehow seems more English. We just can’t cope with anything outside the medium can we?
But on those brief weeks when the sun shines, when people decide it’s ok to walk half naked down the high street or blind innocent children with their pasty white legs and we need to spend most of our days in the supermarket because it’s air conditioned, here is a cooling and indecently tasty snack that should cheer you up no end.
My friend Anne tipped me off that Hassan in the shop round the corner was keeping boxes of Pakistani mangoes out the back for his ‘special’ customers. I made it that day’s work to become one of them.
“They’re expensive.” he half whispered at me.
“four… pounds…” pause “a… box.”
After I had convinced him that I was prepared to stretch to meet his extortionate demands he quietly slipped out of sight. I stood on the pavement, like I was up to no good. He returned, box in hand and the deal was done. He slipped back into the shadows and I returned to my kitchen.
If you can get hold of them, Pakistani and alphonse mangoes are the best. Once you’ve tasted them there really is no alternative. They are juicy and sweet beyond belief. Almost dirty in how good they taste. They may look a little wrinkly and past their best, but that is when they are at their best. Try them this way and I hope you’ll be hooked enough to stand on street corners trying to score your hit.
1 mango per person.
Zest and juice of half a lime per person.
A pinch of chilli powder or sliced chillies, depending on how you like your spice. A pinch of chilli flakes is also good.
Slice the mango or squeeze it into a pulp in a glass. This is probably easier when they’re as ripe as the ones I had, and it also makes it look fairly elegant, like a little dessert.
Dress it with a good squeeze of lime juice, a pinch of zest and as much chilli as you like and find a quiet place to eat it.