Sunday, March 27, 2011

An Embarrassment of Mangoes

An Embarassment of MangoesAn Embarrassment of Mangoes
Ann Vanderhoof
Bantam (2005)
ISBN 0553815555

Look over on the right and you'll see the Cook the Books logo has been added to my CookAlong groups. I really needed another cooking group, didn't I? But this one sounds like it's just up my alley, so I really had to join in. Every two months we read a food-related book (I do that already) and cook a meal inspired by the book (not often, but it's a nice idea). This time, I somehow mis-remembered the deadline, so I'm too late posting, but I'd already planned the meal, and was looking forward to it, so here I am anyhow. Next time I'll do better I hope.

The assignment for February and March was An Embarrassment of Mangoes, wherein the author, Ann, and her partner, Steve, planned and executed and two-year sailing trip from Toronto to the Caribbean. When they started out, Ann is not really a sailor. By the end of their trip, she has become both experienced and confident. They spent their time island-hopping and cooking some of the delicious island food on board. (I must say I sometimes wondered how she equipped her tiny shipboard kitchen. Which gadgets and appliances did she consider worth the space they took up?)

Inspired by all this? Well, I must say I was inspired to try conch, in spite of the mess of preparation, but that will have to wait until I actually find some. Meanwhile, I went for something easier to find and a bit less involved. To stimulate further inspiration, I turned to The Cooking of the Caribbean Islands, part of my old Time-Life Foods of the World series.

One of the characters Ann and Steve met on their trip was Edward Hamilton, the self-styled Minister of Rum. In his honor, we started with Rum Punch (TLCarib, p129) accompanied by Accras—Saltfish Fritters (Embarrass, p300).

We've enjoyed the accras that our English-Jamaican friend serves at her restaurant for Jamaican Night, so it was fun to try these at home. They're quite easy to make and make very good finger food. (Some of them didn't seem to be quite done all the way through, so next time, I think I'll make smaller balls off a teaspoon, rather than bigger ones off a tablespoon.) I did like that these accras have a bit of vegetable matter in them, onion, celery, bell pepper); following Yvonne's advice, I also added a bit of finely chopped chili to liven them up.

For the main course, I considered the roti with chicken curry given in Embarrassment. When we lived in The Netherlands, Surinamese roti with chicken curry was a take-away favorite. But that seemed like more work than I wanted to do today, and there were shrimp in the freezer wanting to be used, so I made some very yummy Trinidadian Shrimp Curry (TLCarib, p23).

The rum theme continued with our dessert. There was Bolo di Rom—Rum Cake (TLCarib, p109). This is a cake that's traditionally served unfrosted (according to the book), but sometime served with a coconut-cream sauce. I served it with the last bit of ice milk that I made recently.

Our Caribbean meal adventure brought a bit of sunshine to an otherwise gray and drippy spring day. And thanks go to Deb for hosting this adventure!


  1. Hey Kaye,

    So sorry I couldn't include you in the already posted round up and judging this time around. (Those darn deadlines!) ;-) I am so happy that you enjoyed the book and everything you made looks wonderful. A perfect Caribbean meal!

    I did put a comment on the round up post letting people know to come take a look at your fabulous creations and giving the link to your post. Hope to see you for the next one. ;-)



  2. Wow! This is quite a spread from cocktails to dessert. I like your style. Welcome to the gang at Cook the Books!

  3. What a nice meal! I am particularly curious about the rum cake. Well done!

  4. Next time, Deb, I'll get the dates right! I've already started Lunch in Paris and enjoying it.

    I really like the Cook the Books idea, since I read a lot of this genre, and like to cook too.

    Simona, I thought the rum cake was really nice. I was kind of hurry and didn't mention that it had a lovely taste of rum and lime. Also, it had some cornmeal in the batter, so it had an interesting texture. It's definitely one to make again. If you'd like the recipe, let me know and I'll send it before too long.

  5. Sorry you mis-remembered, but I enjoyed your post and the recipes (especially those focusing on rum!) :) Glad you posted them anyway.

  6. I'm so glad you sent your spread in anyway! The lead on TL books will be a great "treasure" hunt! Thanks for showing us your incredible spread!