The power goes out here quite often. Not everyday, but at least once a week since I’ve been here. One of these times my host mom Manuela wanted to make mango juice, but we couldn’t use the blender without electricity. So she taught me a new trick. At home my dad used to cut up a mango for us kids as a special treat. He would give us the slippery hunks of fruit in a bowl and save the pit and remainders for himself. Mangoes are messy to eat and to prepare, the juice would run down my dad’s hands and the fibers would get stuck in my teeth. It’s a fruit that makes you work for its sweetness.
Here is what Manuela taught me: Massage the mango all over, making it soft and squishy. Then bite a hole in the top of it, smaller than a dime. Now it’s possible to suck the juice out of the mango, get all the goodness out of it without any mess. The best strategy I found was to pinch the mango toward the bottom and try to pull the juice toward the opening, kind of like a tube of toothpaste. Manuela squeezed hers with her whole fist like it was a pouch of Capri Sun. When both were done there were only a deflated mango skins with a lumpy pit in the middle.
The next day, when the power was back, I was able to teach her something new, too. I had bought two bags of microwave popcorn from Exito, a store that’s basically the Colombian version of Walmart. She asked if she could have some so I said yes, of course she could. But she went to open the bag before it had been in the microwave. I laughed and tried to explain it needed to be cooked first. So later that night while we were watching our favorite television show Master Chef Junior I made the popcorn for her. When it started to pop in the microwave she looked at it, startled. When I emptied the bag into the bowl, she tasted a piece and loved it. It’s rare I get to show her anything, as I am the one desperately trying to learn new things everyday, so being able to share a new experience with her was wonderful.
Manuela, my Colombian host mom