The benefits of licky-sticky mangoes
Mangoes are the patron saint of eternal youth, says Susan Jane White, who has swapped her night cream for a crate of deliciously sweet, juicy Alphonsos and a bath tub
I am snooping around Galway for my supply of Alphonso mangoes, like an only slightly less bonkers version of myself. These chaps are the Imelda May of mangoes - perfumed and honeyed, with inimitable attitude. Intoxicating.
Britain threw a legendary hissy fit earlier in the summer, upon locating a winged terrorist on the skin of some Indian Alphonsos, which alarmed some highbrow botanists.
Imports of these mangoes were banned faster than immediately, making them quite the adventure to find. Your best bet is in a local Asian grocer or a halal store.
Generally, Pakistani and Indian mangoes arrive on our shores ready to eat, as opposed to the solid Brazilian Kents that assault our supermarkets. The Alphonsos, in particular, are cheaper, sweeter and much jellier than any other mango I've seduced. So dribbly are these Alphonsos, you will need to sit in a bathtub just to eat one.
Although mangoes are high in natural sugars - 30g on average - they service our system too. Good news for sugar junkies. Expect to get honking amounts of beta-carotene, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin C with each mango session. These particular nutrients are associated with dewy skin and ageless beauty.
Vitamin C is seriously groovy. It helps promote the production of collagen, which is considered to be the foundation of smooth, supple skin. Vitamin C is also critical for the recovery of damaged skin cells. Your night cream might try to boast the same, but a crate of mangoes and a bathtub is more reasonable and more effective.
Isn't it so satisfying to find a food you love, that loves you back? And get this: mangoes are a surprisingly good source of vitamin B6. This vitamin helps our brain manufacture happy hormones called serotonin. So here's a recipe to help hotwire some happiness into your cerebral hemispheres this afternoon. Oh, and run the bath.
Chilled Mango and Egyptian Gibna
Gibna is a soft, white, salty cheese similar to feta, but distinct to Egypt. It may not sound terribly exciting, but your veins will think otherwise. Cayenne chilli pepper revs up your heart rate and metabolism, and helps release a cavalry of feel-good endorphins.
Socialise it with some licky-sticky mangoes to experience alarming amounts of pleasure.
You will need:
2 very ripe mangoes (Alphonsos if you can find them, otherwise, regular mangoes will do)
200g (8oz) gibna beyda or feta cheese
1 teaspoon lime juice
4 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon cayenne chilli pepper
Handful of fresh mint leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
De-stone each mango. To do this, cut the cheeks of mango flesh from each side of the stone. Slice the mango halves into strips, like melon, removing the leathery skin with a sharp knife. Try salvaging as much flesh from the stone as possible, but I usually resort to sucking it while reading the remainder of the recipe.
Arrange the mango slices on a breadboard, and leave them to chill in the fridge.
In a bowl, use a fork to mash up the gibna beyda cheese or the feta cheese, whichever you are using, along with the lime juice, the tahini, the extra-virgin olive oil and the cayenne chilli pepper. Finely chop the fresh mint leaves and let them loose with the mashed cheese. It won't need salt, but a few cracks of the black pepper mill will bring it up an octave.
Serve in a small bowl beside lashings of fragrant mango slices.