In light of the shelter-in-place order, many of us have resorted to cooking at home, revisiting old recipes and getting creative with our pantries. Instead of our usual Flavors Worth Finding column with recommendations from restaurants, KQED staffers are sharing the meals they’ve been making at home to find some comfort and grounding during uncertain times.
It’s mango season in Miami, a three-week period where all the trees are weighed down with hundreds of mangoes. Driving down Old Cutler Road in Coral Gables, you’ll see fallen mangoes picked over by an assortment of animals.
The backyard of my parents’ house is a paradise of tropical fruits. You’ll find fruits my mom grew up eating in Malaysia, like longan, jambu and lychee. There are starfruit, passionfruit, orange, apple and avocado trees all hiding in plain sight in this little mini forest, an ode to my family’s past and present. And, of course, there are mangoes. So. Many. Mangoes.
When calling my parents to catch up, I often interrupt some sort of mango adventure: My dad filling up giant, plastic storage boxes of the red-orange fruit, collecting addresses to send mangoes to friends and family and prepping kacha (unripe, green) mangoes to make mankgai thokku (a Tamilian mango pickle), or my mom pulping and freezing super-ripe mangos for ice cream.
My mom’s birthday was recently, and to my surprise, my brother (who is not the cook or baker in the family) attempted a mango-upside-down cake. I called in via video chat to watch her blow out a solitary candle, cut the cake and take a bite. I’m not sure why, but during this quarantine, I’m missing my family more than usual. It’s not like I would typically be taking a flight to see them at this time, but there is a sense of displacement and loss. Perhaps it is the classic case of wanting what you know you can’t have.