By Peyton Roberts
Last week I stopped in at my favorite roadside produce stand… the one in Piti on the east side of Rt. 1. Situated in the middle of nowhere (relatively speaking), it is an oasis of freshness. I always learn so much from Dona and the other growers about what is in season and how to prepare local goodness I am not as familiar with. (Confession: I also love the ruggedness of driving my truck into the grass on the side of the road to get to this place).
This stop-in, I learned that the sweet mountain apple is no longer in season, but the little beadlike fruit called sangules (that I’d never heard of) are. At 10 for $1, I figured it was worth a try. It was sweet and tangy, and as my teeth maneuvered around the big pit in the middle of the fruit, I overheard Dona say, “It’s like a plum.” Sure enough!
Also in season right now is the star fruit, or star apple. The star fruit is one I am more familiar with because its adorable star-shaped slices are such a great garnish for dessert dishes. I didn’t know until living here that you can gnaw into these things like, well, an apple, eating seeds and all. I added a few star-spangled slices to my Memorial Day fruit platter.
And let’s not forget the almighty mango. While this one’s certainly more familiar to island newcomers, I add this to the list because Dona informed me that their trees are getting fewer and fewer mangoes these days (yikes!). I heeded her warning that mango season is at the beginning of the end, so I picked up a few sweet orange mangoes and an avocado to adorn my tuna steaks later that night (recipe below).
I also finally tried the pickled mango I’ve seen at roadside stands and farmer’s markets for the last few months. I say “finally” because I’m generally not a fan of pickled things. Now I see what all the fuss is about. Marinated in vinegar and spices, pickled mangoes boast terrific flavor (and it’s kind of nice that someone else has done the peeling and slicing!). This particular roadside stand is open in Inarajan on Saturdays and Sundays.
My friend Rachel (who grew up in Guam) gave me a great tip for getting through mango off-season local style. Every year toward the end of mango season she peels and slices a bunch of ripe mangoes and freezes the pieces in plastic bags. Once brought back to room temperature, she can continue to enjoy fresh-tasting Guam mangoes in her smoothies and fruit salads all year long. I figured there’s no better time than now to share this little tip as we approach the end of mango season. Sounds like a great project for a rainy day (just don’t wait until rainy season or it will be too late!).
On one hand, it makes me a little sad that we can’t get all of our favorite fruits all year long (well, we can, but they join us all the way from Mexico and Ecuador… ay, caramba!). On the other hand, my friend Abby (who I met on island) has helped me appreciate how appealing it is to eat produce when and where it’s in season, versus when it’s forced to make an appearance. Nature’s menu makes the right suggestion at the right time every time.
Enjoy this wonderful season of delicious island fruit, and make sure to check out the Sixth Annual Agat Mango Festival June 8-9!
Ginger Mango Salsa
1 large ripe local avocado, diced
2 sweet orange mangoes, diced
juice of 4 calamansi, or 1 lime
1 tbsp minced red onion
1-3 boonie peppers, seeded & minced
salt and pepper
ginger (grated or fresh)
In a small bowl, season the diced avocado with salt and calamansi (or lime) juice. Lightly toss in the mangoes, onion, peppers. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and ground ginger (or a 1″ piece of minced fresh ginger). Add chopped cilantro (if desired – I can’t get it to grow here so mine isn’t local). Serve as an appetizer with plantain chips or as a topping for fresh fish.
Peyton Roberts is a military spouse who moved to Guam from the States in July 2010. She started her blog, Peyt’s Island, as a way to keep friends and family informed about what island life is like. Over time, that space transformed into a forum for writing about her experiences discovering Guam’s beauty, and more recently its flavors. Peyton loves all Guam adventures, whether land or sea, and has a passion for sharing ideas about incorporating local produce into regular family cooking. At the Fresh Factor, Peyton shares recipes, interviews, and information about all things fresh on Guam.