Last weekend, at an Asian market, I came across these perfectly ripened "champagne" mangoes, and their fragrance brought back memories of mango picking after a monsoon rain.
Down the street from my grandmother's house in Vientiane, next to what used to be the French library on Setthathirath Road, was a tall mango tree, with fruit much too high for us to pick standing on the ground. During monsoon season, the heat would be unbearable. But then the sky would darken, the wind would pick up and the rain would begin. The first big, fat drops brought relief from the heat. But then it would just pour. The village children waited, knowing the rain would become a steady drizzle that could last for days. When it did, we all ran to the mango tree where the ground was covered with mangoes brought down by the strong wind and rain. We gathered whole ones in the folds of our T-shirts for later, but the bruised and split fruits, the ones that were the ripest and the sweetest, we ate right there, sucking on the seeds and spitting out the skin, the juice running down our elbows.
Today the mangoes are bigger but not as sweet or juicy. Perhaps memory is sweeter than reality, but the fragrance of a ripe mango always puts me back underneath that mango tree.
I bought the mangoes from the Asian market and made Sticky Rice with Mango. It is my favorite "anytime" snack but often I'll serve it as dessert to my dinner guests. It's always a hit.
Sticky Rice with Mango
2 cups freshly cooked sticky rice
15 oz coconut milk
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp salt
3-4 ripe mangoes
Pour coconut milk in a small sauce pan and reduce by 1/2, add sugar and salt. Give it a taste, it should be slightly sweet with a hint of saltiness. Remove from heat, add about 2 cups cooked rice and let it soak in all the coconut mixture, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature topped with peeled and sliced mangoes. Serves four.