So there we were driving down a “big tree” street in East Boca, casing the joint, when we spotted the perfect string of houses. Three houses in a row, all with their own giant, loaded mango trees. We hit gold, people.
We parked in front of the middle one. I, of course, would rather die than knock on someone’s door to ask for a mango, so I stayed back with Boca Bookworm (the daughter) and Boca Gerber Baby, while Boca Super Dad and the world’s most irresistible four year old (my middle child) knocked on the door to ask if the family would mind sharing a couple juicy ones. Unfortunately, no answer.
It was time for the next house. Only this house had kids outside and what appeared to be departing guests, a family of five loading into their SUV. Being embarrassed (but not embarrassed enough) that my husband was on his way up to beg for fruit, I was discreetly tapping away at my phone, looking busy and important (refreshing my Facebook feed over and over). The bookworm, though, was keen to roll down her window so she could listen in on the conversation. When she hit the window button, nothing happened. After hearing her complaint, I realized the windows were most likely locked.
Don’t worry… I’ve got this. I unbuckled my seatbelt and leaned over to hit the window lock button on the driver side door from the passenger seat. It was a simple maneuver; I grounded myself with my left tippy toes planted on the floor and half of my left butt cheek stabilizing my upper body from the seat while I reached elegantly – or so I thought. It was almost as if I blacked out… but suddenly in my lapse of balance I found myself lying across the steering wheel..
“F*CK!!!!!!!!!” So much for being discreet.
The family of five, still loading their Lexus SUV, stared at me, presumably wondering why I just slammed on the horn. Meanwhile, Super dad and the irresistible four year old were just about to knock on the front door when they too looked back in confusion.
“What the fuck is your problem?” Asked Super dad’s facial expression.
I timidly rolled down my window and as if I was naked on stage, then muttered embarrassingly, “Sorry…. I just fell on the horn.” FML!
In that moment, I was caught. I was exposed (at least to the family of five of five in the Lexus). There would be no more hiding, tapping, or looking important. The whole world just learned our family secret: We are mango scavengers.
What is a mango scavenger?
Did you know that in South Florida alone, there are more than 200 varieties of mango? We are obsessed. Juicing mangos, grilling mangos, baby food, slicing the green ones and sprinkling them with salt and chili pepper. We can get down on some serious mango. And no two mangos are alike, making mango hunting a constant cliffhanger. During South Florida’s mango season, we drive around the east neighborhoods (the ones crowded with 50+ year old mango trees) looking for giant, full trees to scavenge. We ALWAYS knock on the door, asking if the owners are willing to share a couple.
THIS IS IMPORTANT: We are not assholes and it’s never okay to take someone’s fruit without asking (unless you are willing to risk getting shot). Usually, though, if you’re considerate enough to ask, people are nice and happy to share.
And here’s a secret, bonus tip. There are even a lot of crazy people who happen to live in a house with a huge mango tree, but hate the taste of mango! I know it sounds crazy, but I swear it’s true.
That, my friend, is what it means to be a mango scavenger.
Now, for that recipe I promised.
I’m guessing that after reading this great story, you’re itching to knock on your estranged neighbor’s door to ask for a couple mangos. I hope you do! To make your life easier, I’m sharing this recipe I conjured up after trying something similar at the International Mango Festival in Miami.
Tangy Mango and Garbanzo Bean Salad
- 1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans – Rinsed
- 2 ripe, sweet, mangos – Diced
- 1/4 of an onion (Red is best, but I only had white available) – Finely Chopped
- 1 large garlic clove – Finely Chopped
- A heft handful of flat-leafed parsley – Finely Chopped
- The zest and juice of half of a lemon
- 2 pinches of salt
- A splash of white vinegar
- A (somewhat larger) splash of olive oil
- Optional: 4-5 previously roasted red baby bell peppers – finely chopped OR a small jar of pimentos – drained
- Optional: 1 thai chili – finely chopped
Once everything is chopped and ready, mix in a bowl and refrigerate overnight. At this point, it’s technically ready, but it’s going to taste much better tomorrow after the flavors have had a chance to marinate and chill.
And that, my friends, is an awesome way to enjoy mangos… Enjoy!