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An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude    by Ann Vanderhoof order for
Embarrassment of Mangoes
by Ann Vanderhoof
Order:  USA  Can
Broadway, 2005 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Have you ever dreamed of sailing away to the Caribbean for a year or two, dropping out of your world? I did. Even discussed it with my husband and two friends. But assorted children, pets, and the fact that we had no boat (and not enough equity in our houses to buy one) made us give up the scheme. But it was lovely while we plotted and planned.

Ann Vanderhoof and her husband Steve Manley made it happen. Took them seven years to put their plans in motion. But with their hearts in their throats and a long-held dream in front of them, they sailed away from Toronto, set their course for the Caribbean and embarked on the cruise of a lifetime. They returned much wiser sailors, having learned that the best way to study sailing is to actually do it. Nothing beats on the job training. They sailed from Canada, down the east coast of the United States, and then made the run from Miami to Nassau while keeping an eye on the hurricane season. They discovered that was paramount to their safety and enjoyment.

I won't list the ports they docked at in the Caribbean. Read about them yourself and enjoy a sailing venture by proxy. Each was different and something new was learned at each stop. They made friends of other pleasure sailors. But, most importantly, they tried to immerse themselves into the life of each and every island. The most lasting things they brought back with them were the island recipes. What lovely food. Ann Vanderhoof is an amateur chef, who fell right in with cooking suggestions from both the purveyors of fresh foods in the native markets and from the friends the couple made in the native populations.

I've tried conch - the ugly little sea creature that lives in such a lovely shell. But I have never tasted conch prepared the way Vanderhoof was taught. Would love to try some of her recipes. As well as varied ways to prepare conch, recipes are included for Grilled Tuna Three Ways, Sautéed Dorado with Creole Tomato Sauce, and King Mackerel Escabeche, to name but a few. And the Pina Coloda Cheesecake sounds like the right way to end a fresh seafood extravaganza. Give yourself a treat on a grey winter's day. Acquire a copy of An Embarrassment of Mangoes and travel with its author to the islands of sunshine and coconuts.

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