Tanya Leach-Haye, Contributor
When I emigrated to Vancouver, I underestimated how much I'd miss my favourite Jamaican foods, especially fruits.
I'd never given it much thought because before emigrating, I had always heard that Jamaicans living abroad would, surreptitiously or magically, locate a West Indian community where they'd meet people from 'yard' (yardies) and once they found yardies, they'd point them in the direction of anything Caribbean they sought. So, I had assumed that I'd discover where to find my favorite foods when I was ready.
But what I didn't realise was how little West Indian influence there was in Vancouver. As there was no such West Indian community per se, I learnt that when it came to getting my favourite foods, I'd have three options: I'd have to do without or I'd have to be willing to 'pay an arm and a leg' to get it delivered to my home or I'd have to drive for many miles to get the foods I loved and missed, the comfort foods. So, the choice was clear: Whenever I felt the need for comfort foods, I braced for the journey as I made the trip to another city in the Lower Mainland and found all the foods I loved. Well, almost. I found everything except mangoes. Julie mangoes. Sure, I found mangoes for Pakistan and Chile, but none were Julie mangoes and none were from Jamaica.
As much as I appreciated getting bun and cheese for Easter, drinking sorrel at Christmas, and eating rice and gungo peas, ackee and salt fish, and fish and bammy all year, whenever I wanted in Vancouver, my taste buds pined for Julie mangoes.
Whenever I got desperate enough, I would award myself the consolation prize of a foreign mango, but I'd eat it critically. (Last time I did, my husband looked up from reading the papers, and in an annoyed voice reminded me that I didn't have to eat it!) Anyway, anyone who has eaten a Julie mango knows that mangoes from anywhere else in the world pale in comparison. (And I don't think I'm biased!) Once you've eaten a Jamaican mango, your taste buds will never be the same again. Never.
And my recent trip to Jamaica reminded me about that absolute ecstasy involved in partaking of this fruit. As I sunk my teeth into the first mango I ate last month, it occurred to me that eating a mango should not be taken lightly. It should be a celebrated occasion. One must prepare for it; one can't just rush into it. One must savour every moment. There is a process involved. A deliberate process. And that's what I want to share with you. Here are the steps.
Recognizing that eating a Jamaican mango is a joyous delight, you want to be sure to: