An Amazing Year for Mangos on Ambergris Caye + Strange Fruit: Yummy Pickly Grocera

I don’t remember a better year for mangos on Ambergris Caye.  I’m not sure if it is a blowout year on the mainland for mangos.  Or that there are fewer consumers (no tourists!) of fresh fruit in Belize right now.  OR if mango-tree-owners are extra-incentivized to distribute more fruit (and maybe make a bit more money uring these TOUGH economic times.)

Whatever it is?  I am EXTREMELY grateful for the cheap, plentiful mangos we are seeing on Ambergris Caye.

Let me back up a bit and tell you a bit about my experience with mangos in Belize.

  • They grow in ABUNDANCE on the mainland – both near and far from the sea.  The seaside town of Hopkins Belize is known for her mangos.  They have a festival each year (though 2020s was obviously canceled) to celebrate the fruit.  They are literally everywhere…so many litter the street that even the birds can’t keep up.  SO MUCH FUN.
  • Mangos are seasonal fruits – so we only see them from about late May until August.  Any other fresh mango outside of those dates?  Is probably an illegal import from Mexico.
  • There are very few mango trees on Ambergris Caye.  I’m not sure if it is the soil (or lack of it) – the sea spray and salt…the shortage of rain for 5-6 months of the year.   I actually bought 4 beautiful mango trees at the 2018 Hopkins Mango Festival.  They flourished for about one year – growing a few feet taller at the camp.  Jeff and I spent hours mooning over the trees and dreaming about feasting on mangos in our retirement.  But last year, the entire country suffered a terrible drought…and salt leached up through the soil and killed them.  (The trees were actually grafted – local mango tree trunk, Philippine Gold branches from the queen of mangos – Miss Emma)

Here’s a pic of one of her Phillippine golds.  (sounds a bit like a name for heroin or…I’ve been watching too many episodes of Narcos recently)

Ok….enough crying about our retirement fruit.  The good news is….you can NOW get big beautiful mangos – 2..3…or 4 different kinds…in San Pedro right.  I’ve been buying them from David in Central Park.  Tell him to pick the sweet ones and when you plan to eat them.  He chooses ones that I would not.  Green ones.  Ones with black spots.  And each has been AMAZING.

Selling mangos in Central Park

When I bought some yesterday – he also had some delicious MAMEY.  A sweet, almost custard-like fruit that you are going to want to try.  Dusty and brown on the outside and inside?  (Here’s my write up on this cool fruit)

Strange Fruit:  Grocera or Grosella

Earlier in the week I visited David for another supply of fresh mangos.  He had jars of what looked like berries…a green color so pale, they were almost white.

Grocera, David said.  Do I want to try?

I didn’t…not really.  You see…we have a few grocera trees at the camp.

In April and May, the strange berries grow and…as I stated in the blog a few years ago…if there was a scale of things SOUR from 1 to 10.  These things are definitely 110.

The tree is actually called Phyllanthus acidus and is a type of gooseberry.

Grocera is not to be eaten raw.  Here – they are soaked in salt, white vinegar, wild oregano and habanero – and are crispy (watch out for the small seed in the center) and taste so much like spicy pickles.  They are delicious!

I fully expect to see these used to garnish Bloody Mary’s and Micheladas…and used to make dirty martinis soon.

I have the jar in the fridge and I’m snacking on them now…

Four Belize dollars for the jar?  You can’t beat it!

Have a great holiday weekend in the States and stay safe everyone!

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