Tuesday, June 17, 2014

East Coast vs. West Coast: food fights

It’s that time again in Miami. Out with the pastel nail polish, in with the dark. Light nail polish is fine in the summer all over the country, but not in Miami, when you have to peel and slice mangoes—mangoes turn nail polish bright orange. Wear gloves, you say. Not gonna happen—I like to lick my fingers.

This year we have a bumper crop. The little ones that shall remain nameless because we have no idea what to call them are sweet, string free, and best eaten right off the tree. Thanks to the trusty Vita-Mix, we can make ice cream/freezes out of them, but how much can you drink? We still have some in the freezer in the garage from last year. Those we just threw in without even bothering to cut them.

The big ones called springfels, now that’s another story. They are as big as papayas. I pity the person who walks under the tree when one drops off—some of them weigh as much as three pounds. Rather than don a helmet for protection I pick them green and try to wait until they ripen to cut them …but…I cut one too soon, so I ended up with a very green and sort of sour mango, all sliced up and stored in the refrigerator. 

Since the springfels is rather rare, I couldn’t bring myself to toss the offensive slices so I concluded that they might make a decent slaw. I grated the slices and, rather than sugar, I added a few overripe small mangoes that I had picked yesterday. Along with some salt, a splash of key lime juice and a heaping spoonful of fresh salsa, I ended up with a bowl of slaw that I can’t stop eating.

Then my California daughter happened to call to describe yesterday’s meal. She just doesn’t understand that California tomatoes are so superior to the tasteless stuff that they try to pass off as vine-ripened here in Florida, that I can’t even listen to her when she tells me about her dinners. 

No, I couldn’t shut her up. Her moussaka was made with fresh tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, all from her local produce stand. If they grow anything worth eating in Florida, they ship it out of state. We get our oranges and strawberries from Costco—only the ones from California. 

Tomatoes are another story. The little tiny ones that are local sometimes taste OK, but the big, juicy, very red ones, nope. Why can’t they grow good tomatoes in Florida? We even try to pick our own. Even right off the plants, the very red ones have no taste. We can get some green vegetables locally: green beans, cilantro, lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, but nothing that should taste sweet. 

So, once a year, when mango season comes around, it’s my turn to gloat—and wear dark nail polish.

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