Do you remember when the “kitchen sink drama-realism” was all the rage? Those of my vintage would recall the many films, plays, novels etc., which emanated out of Britain in the late 50s and early 60s. The “kitchen sink dramas” depicted “angry young men” disillusioned with modern society, seeking escapism from their dreary lot in life. I think a few “angry young women” were in the mix…tossing tea towels at the “angry young men”. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of hovering over my kitchen sink with serious intent and concentration.
It’s mango season, which means there is no place better to devour a mango than over the kitchen sink. Unladylike the practice might be, but I don’t care. I’m not flash, and never have I professed to be, but over the kitchen sink I can devour a mango in a flash with flair!
Mr. Rice, whose nickname was “Sago” (why it wasn’t “Fried” or “Risotto” beats me) lived on a rather large parcel of land at the end of a short lane across from where I spent my childhood years…my first childhood, that is. At the end of the lane in which he lived was Gympie’s tar works, a place we neighbourhood kids loved to act out our imaginary adventures. Mr. Rice’s favourite pastime was gardening. “Sago” spent hours in his garden. Along with productive vegetable plots a variety of fruit trees grew. Generously he shared the yield of his crops, which included citrus fruits. Come mango season he had more mangoes than his kitchen sink could handle. So his nearby neighbours became beneficiaries of the iconic balls of sunshine. Mr Rice was also generous in sharing his gardening knowledge. He took my brother Graham under his wing and taught him so much. It was through Mr. Rice my brother’s love of gardening grew, a keen interest that lasted throughout my brother’s life.
Nearby mulberry trees were raided regularly, too; a crime we couldn’t disguise. Our purple faces, lips and tongues were evidence impossible to deny. Fun times (and feeds) were had. Our families of silkworms thrived on mulberry leaves. In one corner of our front yard a loquat tree grew. It, too, was a generous supplier of fruit. Often Nana made loquat jam. I can’t recall seeing a loquat tree, or the fruit, since those days of yore. Do loquats still exist?
In the early 80s I had a lot of fun in my greengrocery-health food store situated in Hastings Street, Noosa Heads, on the Sunshine Coast. Someone had to be the chief tester of the fruit quality, didn’t they? From local growers in the Noosa surrounds I purchased pineapples and pawpaws. They’d arrive at the rear of my shop, with a truckload of goodness. Freshly-made fruit smoothies were very popular with customers. My blender was rarely idle. I learnt so much from that little shop, and met many interesting folk from all walks of life.
My now late father-in-law loved mangoes. I got a kick out of spoiling him with mangoes. Not just one or two…but a full tray at a time to enjoy. As a man goes…he was one of the best…a gentleman through and through. To see his face light up with delight delighted me. My mother-in-law didn’t miss out, either. Preferring nectarines to mangoes, I’d give her a huge pile of nectarines. They were good people who deserved a bit of spoiling.
When employed by Morris Corporation (Aus) Pty. Ltd,, catering contractors, as their manager-chef of the Collinsville coalminers’ mess and single men’s living quarters (which often were a mess), four large Bowen mango trees graced the backyard of the company house in which I lived.
In the front yard of the house I rented in Gympie before moving here to the mountain 20 years ago a kerosene aka Sherie or Cherie mango tree, not only gave shade, but generously shared its bounty. The kerosene mango is not as popular as the Bowen mango, but the fruit even though a little stringy, is quite tasty, and as healthy as its superior cousins. In the backyard two pawpaw trees, a lemon tree, a grapefruit tree, and an orange tree helped fill my fruit bowl. In my element was I! If I could’ve fitted in the bowl, there I would’ve contentedly resided!
Along with my love for raw mixed nuts, I guess I’m nuttier and fruitier than a fruit cake (I decided I’d get that in before you did); and butter does melt in my mouth…and if left out of the fridge.
Barbecued Mango Chicken: Place 1 large, peeled, sliced mango, juice of 1-1/2 limes, 1/4c x-virgin olive oil, 2tbs light soy, 2tsp sriracha sauce, 2 crushed garlic cloves and 1tsp turmeric in a food processor; season; process until very smooth. Place half mango mixture in bowl; add 1kg skinless chicken thigh fillets, fat trimmed. Turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 20mins to marinate. Place remaining mango mixture in small bowl; set aside. Heat greased barbecue grill on med-high heat. Cook chicken 4mins on each side or until charred and cooked through. Transfer to large plate. Cover and rest 5mins. Meanwhile, cook 1-1/2 halved limes, cut-sides down, on grill 2mins, or until charred. Top chicken with a few fresh mint leaves; serve with mango mixture and lime.
Mango Salad: Place 2 peeled, sliced mangoes,1/3c mint, 1/3c coriander and1 small red onion thinly-cut into rounds in a bowl. Season, then toss…don’t toss out… to combine. Combine juice of 1 lime and 2tbs x-virgin olive oil in small jug. Divide salad among serving bowls. Drizzle dressing over salad and sprinkle with 1/3rd cup toasted coconut flakes and 1/2tsp chilli flakes.
Mango Pawpaw Smoothie: Place 1c coconut milk, 3/4c small slices pawpaw, 3/4c mango, sliced into small pieces, ½ banana, cut into pieces and 1/2c Greek yoghurt into blender, in that order. Add a pinch of ginger powder, if so inclined. Blend until smooth.