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Cinco De Mango: Salsa, Margaritas, and More!

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Did you know that the mango is the most popular fruit in the world?

I didn't either--I hadn't given it any thought, really--until I got in touch with the newly assembled National Mango Board, who are all about getting you to get to know the mighty mango.

I met my first mango many years ago in my grandmother's kitchen. (Unfortunately, if you're looking for an exotic story about my spicy abuelita or a tale tinged with the heat of the tropics, you're barking up the wrong mango tree. My lovely Jewish grandmother was more borscht than salsa, and her kitchen was in the lush wilds of Vancouver, Canada. How she came to love mango I'll never know...) I remember she taught me how to cut the fruit, and how to eat the sweet, silken flesh off the skin. But the mango and I didn't really spend any time together until I was much older, and and I found them in abundance here in Los Angeles.

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Although there are over 1,000 mango varieties worldwide, six make up the bulk of commercially available fruit. They come into season at various times, but at any time of the year you can find mangoes in your market, because at least one is always in season. I brought home a bag of Kent mangoes--it's got greenish skin with dark red blush and small yellow dots--and put them to work trying out some recipes that can turn your Cinco de Mayo into a Cinco de Mango--or let you mix things up with a little mango.

Mango Salsa

3 large ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 medium jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
2/3 cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup diced red onion
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Stir together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Makes 6 to 8 servings. Can be made ahead and refrigerated.

We (oh, that's not the royal "we" but the we of me and my fellow eaters) love-love-loved this mango salsa (pictured) recipe. That bit of cumin adds just a hint of earthiness to the sweetness of the mangoes. We scooped it up manically with those zippy lime-flavored tortilla chips. Yum!

We also made some mango margaritas, which essentially involves subbing fresh mango chunks for margarita mix and blending away with some crushed ice, tequila, and lime juice. And while the mangoes we had on hand were perfectly ripe and sweet, the first batch of drinks came out way too heavy on the tequila side, and the flavor of the mango lost to the alcohol and icy texture. For the next round I cut back on the tequila and subbed in some triple sec, which seemed to let the sweetness of the fruit flavors come through. Of course, our rims were salted for that extra contrast of savory-sweet.

These recipes came to us courtesy of the National Mango Board. Check them out for more of their inventive recipes involving the world's most popular fruit. And in the meanwhile, Happy Cinco de Mayo--er, Cinco de Mango!

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