Back in the Netherlands I used to love going out in nature to forage. I’d harvest blackberries to make a nice dessert with, pick elderflowers or lavender to make a cordial. In summer I would collect rosepetals to make a bright pink jam and in autumn I would go back to the same bushes to pick rosehips for jelly. Next to the school where I used to work grew walnut trees. I never managed to get more than a single ripe walnut from those trees – local ladies would scurry the floor under the trees all day while I was at work to collect them all -, I did use the leaves for tea and once I harvested a bunch of green walnuts at the beginning of summer and used them to infuse vodka for a liqueur and mulled wine.
I tell you this story to help you understand my absolute joy when we came across a huge mango tree on lle Royale during our first hike. And not just one. Another, and another, a field with multiple enormous mature mango trees. The floor was littered with fallen fruit, most of it mushed and fermenting, with swarms of fruitflies and ants feasting on the yellow orange insides. Some would have bitemarks from the local monkeys, discarded if it wasn’t sweet enough to their liking. But also plenty of very nice ones, with no broken skin, soft and ripe. What a gift! We collected a couple, used Robins pocket knife to gently cut open the skin and gave them a try.
They were so good!
We went back for some more. The girls (and who am I kidding, us as well!) had juice dripping from their chins and hands. We found more to take back to the boat with us, even green ones to ripen later.
Fast forward to two days and another mango-haul later, when I found myself sitting on the back of the boat with my feet in the water eating four mangos for breakfast without the use of a knife; just peeling them like bananas!
Tomorrow morning we are departing for an overnight sail to Surinam. Let me leave you now with a recipe for breadfruit to celebrate these magnificent jungle islands. I made this for dinner today and it was so good! The breadfruit, that looked like a green dragon egg the size of a cantaloupe (not kidding, google it!), we harvested from Ile Saint Joseph. I just had to give it a try!
It is a very starchy fruit, neutral in taste, a bit like sweet potato with a nicer texture but less flavor. Perfect for adding spices and frying!
Fried breadfruit with garam masala
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 heaped tablespoon of garam masala powder
Olive oil (or coconut oil but I didn’t have any)
Cut the fruit in wedges. Be mindful of the white sticky sap. Cut out the core like you would a pumpkin. Peel off the skin. Marinade in a bag with the oil, spices, garlic,pepper and salt for at least 30 minutes before frying like you would with potato wedges. Use as part of a meal with meat and vegs or as a snack. I used about half today, leaving the rest in the bag and put it in the freezer for later use.