Subject of mangoes
Today I went to Mrs. K.’s for lunch and brought her a jar of my mango chutney. I confess dear reader that I was sheepish about her tasting what I made. It was as though I was in school again and meeting the principal for an evaluation. After all Mrs. K. grew up with mango trees in her family garden and has used them in chutneys, pickles and curries for most of her life. If I could think of a fruit that instills that same confidence in me it would probably be the raspberry.
I grew up surrounded by raspberry bushes, ran through them as a kid till they scratched my legs to bits, and ate so many in the summertime that the tips of my fingers were constantly red. Eating my Aunt Flora’s raspberry pies at the cottage on the dock with a group of kids, pie portions swimming in vanilla ice cream—the only time we were all quiet—is also part of my juicy raspberry memories.
So back to Mrs. K. and the chutney. Although I was there for lunch, as soon as she saw my jar of mango chutney she wanted to taste some. I thought she would wait till I left, but no this was serious business as I quickly found out. “Fetch me a spoon,” she demanded. And so I hustled to the kitchen, popped open the fresh jar of chutney and sat there on the sofa waiting with anticipation and, yes, some fear for her to give me her verdict.
She sat on the sofa, back erect and staring at the jar of chutney. Then she took one taste on the spoon and waited a few seconds until the flavor filled her palette. “It’s like murabba,” she said with an air of delight. I could have been a wise guy and told her that I intended it to taste like that, but then I didn’t even know what the word meant so there was no use pretending. Although I wished it were more like chutney and less like the strange other thing, I was happy that at least it tasted to her like something recognizable. She told me she’d have it in the mornings with cheddar on toast, and that she wanted another jar because the one I gave her just wasn’t big enough.
When I arrived home I typed this new word into Google and came up with the English translation for marmalade. While it’s true that my chutney was sweeter than I had wanted because the mangoes were ripe and not tart at all, I had pleased my teacher and created something entirely new to me.
And as Mrs. K. is always telling me, cooking is not about being perfect but about creativity and invention.