Mangos have long been one of my favorite fruits and I learned early on that one of the best parts of slicing up a ripe one is what's left behind: the slippery pit, still covered with a thin but delectable layer of fruit. Which I like to suck on, secretly, in the kitchen. Strange? Off-putting? Maybe. But there is an important reason why it is a habit I will never give up.
My parents, who grew up in Thailand, encouraged my sisters and me to suck every last bit of goodness from a mango pit before it went into the trash. I was reminded of this while teaching a cooking class to a group of fourth graders whose parents were primarily immigrants from Central America. After the class, the lead teacher quizzed the students on what they had learned and offered as a prize the mango pits she had set aside from our cooking lesson. The kids went wild, begging to be called on, and then peacefully sitting back and sucking on their pits after giving a correct answer. It made me so happy.
Too often we feel afraid or self-conscious about getting down and dirty with our food, letting the juice from a ripe peach run down our arms, covering our fingers and face in sticky barbecue sauce, or nibbling the last crispy bits from the joint of a chicken wing. We forget that there is so much pleasure to be found outside the rules of politeness. I am not immune — it's my secret habit, after all — but with this one joyous ritual, I remind myself of all the messy, impolite, deeply satisfying ways there are to eat the food we love.
Do you have a secret, possibly impolite, but totally joyful habit in the kitchen?
(Image: Anjali Prasertong)