November 19, 2008

Out Stealing Mangos

I went to the market with Dharma today. I’m spending a little too much time alone. I talk to her, out loud, in public. Like she was a person. I know, I’m edging into crazy lady territory.

I said to her at a street corner (in Portuguese because she is a polyglot after all) “Let’s cross?” when I saw a break in the traffic. And it reminded me of the last lines of Elizabeth Gilbert’s enormously popular memoir, Eat, Pray, Love.

As she’s splashing off into the sunset with her new Brazilian boyfriend she says to him what she had previously described as her favorite word in Italian. She writes:

“You know, it’s a funny thing. The only Romance language that Felipe doesn’t happen to speak is Italian. But I go ahead and say it to him anyway, just as we’re about to jump.
I say: “Attraversiamo.”
Let’s cross over.”

Except Felipe, being Brazilian, would speak Portuguese. And the word for cross over is nearly identical: “atravessar” (or conjugated, “atravessamos”).

Okay, fine, it's no big deal. She maybe wouldn’t have known that at the time she said it (if she actually did say it) and sure, it’s a nice literary tool to wrap it all together and tie it in a pretty bow, and yes, writers are entitled to do those things. But still, for some reason I was totally pissed. I had loved the book and here at the end, I felt played. Had she been tweaking things all along so that they looked just right? Had she done literary photoshopping on the rest of her finely spun details?

So I resolved that I wouldn’t do that. I’d tell it to you straight. And if it isn’t good enough as it is, well then, “viva mediocrity” and all its glorious tones of bachelor beige, sans the pretty ribbon. Therefore, I have to confess…

I wasn’t out stealing mangos. They aren’t ripe yet.

But I liked the way it sounded. Probably because I’m in the middle of Per Petterson’s exquisite novel.

Instead, I had to buy my mangos.

I know that right now, so many of you out there are all about the lentil soup and roasted vegetables and those funky fall flavors of coffee (pumpkin spice?), but my life is upside down and I think after three years I’m almost over my seasonal dyslexia. Almost.

Therefore, if you’d like, you can just bookmark the rest of this post and come back to it on a summer day, because I thought I’d give you a little tutorial on the hands-down, best way to eat a mango. (Okay, I know I said in the last post that mangos aren't eaten, they are sucked, but we're speaking English here - and you can suck the seed if you want.)

I learned this technique from a Brazilian girl I met at the Enchanted Mountain.

Silence is kept in the mornings, from meditation through breakfast, so I quietly stared her down for a couple of days, totally fascinated by how she handled her mango. I’d pretty much given up on eating them because I always became too frustrated by the mess I’d made. As I tried to peel them and slice the meat out, I’d end up with juice running down my elbows and all over the front of my shirt. I usually had more mango on me than in my mouth.

And there, day after day, in the bright morning sun sat this tidy girl with a Buddha smile, deftly popping little chunks of golden deliciousness into her mouth, almost without loosing a drop. She finally noticed me across the table one morning and slid over. In silence, she gave me a step by step. And now, as she did with me, I pass it on to you.


Anonymous said...

hoe 'bout them mangos!

Anonymous said...


Otehlia said...

lovely--someone just showed me this trick! Obrigada!