Regional Cuisine / How to Eat a Mango, Yucatan-Style

How to Eat a Mango, Yucatan-Style

How to Eat a Mango, Yucatan-Style

17 March 2008 Regional Cuisine 28

One of the benefits of living in the tropics is the fresh tropical fruit that literally falls from the trees, and one of the most sought after, most delicious, most sensuous and altogether scrumptious fresh tropical fruits is the mango. Wikipedia claims that there are about 35 species of mangoes, and our experience shopping around for the last six years tells us that maybe five to eight species are sold and consumed here in the Yucatan.

Besides being one of the most delicious fruits on the planet, mangoes are also confounding to eat without making a complete mess of yourself and your surrounding area. Whenever we are lucky enough to eat breakfast at a tropical resort where slices of mangoes lie waiting, already carved from their cradle, we can never get enough. Sometimes, we are lucky to find mangoes on the street, prepared by vendors and served on a stick in a way we have no prayer of duplicating.

So, when called to taste of that sweet tasty flesh in the privacy of our own home or office, we are left to our own devices and we usually stand over the sink with mango juice running down our arms and off of our elbows, mouths smeared with pulp and juice. We invariably succeed in getting mango strings between all our teeth and leaving some of the delicious fruit uneaten as the big slippery seed eventually gets away from us.

And here we must confess that we have actually, in our anal-retentive stupor, when work or cleanliness has taken precedence over sensuality and bohemianism (you know how it is...), we have actually PASSED UP mangoes in the supermarket or let mangoes rot in our fruit dish at home rather than go through the trouble and mess of eating them.

The waste.

Well, we're here to tell you that that sad story will never be told in this family ever again!

Because today, we happened to walk into the office kitchenette while Joseph, our Yucatan-born friend and fellow Yucatan Living team member, was eating his own private mango. He was eating a yellow mango of the Ataulfo variety, one of our favorites (not just for its warm color and intense flavor, but for that seductive curve that graces one end of each fruit... a little cursive dollop that God just couldn't resist after She created this perfect food.). We watched in awe as Joseph deftly sliced, spooned and sucked that lovely innocent little fruit until it's naked seed lay on the plate, surrounded by what used to be its protective clothing. After getting over the shock of having watched a virgin mango being defruited right in front of us, we rushed to get the camera and try it ourselves.

Of course, such an important discovery could not go undocumented or unshared with our Yucatan Living community, so here, without fanfare but with joy in our hearts and just a few mango-threads between our teeth, we bring you Yucatan mango-eating instructions.

Hold the end of the mango that was previously attached to the tree towards you. With a sharp knife, slice into the fruit with the knife parallel to your body and cut straight down. Repeat on the other side. What you have now done is cut off the two 'rumps' or nalgas of the mango (is there any doubt that mango-eating is a sensuous experience?). The center part contains the semilla (seed). Start eating your mango by holding each plump little nalga in your hand, and spooning the mango out like you might a dish of ice cream or a half of an avocado. A ripe mango will just lay still and submissive as you spoon its tender flesh into your mouth with an ease we had not previously thought possible. After devouring the nalgas, pick up the half-naked semilla, peel off the skin on either side, and hold it at its base as you nibble the remaining flesh clinging to the large hard seed. (This part of eating a mango is sponsored by the Dental Floss Lobby.) When you have nibbled it from top to bottom, just toss it onto the are done!

Voila! A little mango between your teeth, perhaps a sticky finger or two... but nothing like the messy debacle of our (and undoubtedly YOUR) previous mango-eating experiences!

Joseph hastened to inform us that there is another popular way of eating a mango in these parts. There is a tool that can be purchased called a mango-fork. You just stick a mango-fork in the business end of a mango, cut a cross in the skin on the other end, peel the skin off like you would a banana, and indulge. And, oh look! There's a whole website devoted to mango-forks and a way to purchase them from someone in San Antonio, Texas who undoubtedly had a similar ah-ha! experience as we have had today (they also, for some reason, sell real estate and used auto parts, but we digress...).

We feel as if the world of mangoes has now opened up to us. The days ahead look brighter, a little yellowish-orange and a lot sweeter. We hadn't known how heavy the burden was that we were laboring under, avoiding the joy of mangoes, until we were liberated. Knowledge is freedom, and in this case, knowledge will definitely mean more mangoes. Spring is mango season here in the Yucatan, so we encourage you all to take this juicy nugget of information, go forth and eat mangoes!


That's all there is to it!

Now, go forth

and eat mangoes!


  • Steve Hush O'Curran 11 years ago

    I absolutely adore amor' MANGOs The dried ones drive me wild ,you know I like to dry my own with bits of spices & sweets. Be well worth the investment of dryer !
    Say a MANGO cocktail might be a real nice cooler ! Oh Ideas Ideas ? Can't hardly wait to be there and play. Peace Hush'

  • Linda Ramos 13 years ago

    This article FANTASTIC! I love Mango's but eating them such a chore this will surely help.
    I married A man from Tetela , Oaxaca Mexico in June. We will be moving to his home in Tetela his yard is home to a couple of Mango trees that I look forward too. Next year. I am loving all your articles as I need to learn learn learn as he has a home there that we will be living in. I speak a tiny amount of words and am so trying to learn. I want my move to be the experience of my Life. Love reading all the articles and blogs.

  • CasiYucateco 13 years ago


    Most Mexicans live on far less, so yes, it is "possible." The true answer depends on you: what things you want to have vs do not need to have vs cannot live without. Even among the ex-pat community, there are vast differences in monthly budget and in lifestyle.

    You should definitely take a vacation, visit for a few weeks, see things for yourself. A little experience with shopping and talking with locals will go a long way towards answering the question in the best way for you.

  • Justice 13 years ago

    I've been reading Yucatan Living for a couple of years now. It sounds so wonderful to live in Merida or Progresso.
    Is it possible to live there with $1500 usd per month income? I would have to rent.
    I think i'm ready to come visit.

    Love your articles.

    Thanks in advance

  • el_toloc 14 years ago


    By the way, there are 2 ways of eating mango verde, 1) you can slice it in a similar way as the pictures shown for the ripe mango, although the slicing will be done in 4 sides (the nalgas as well as the skinny sides), and when those pieces have been eaten you grab the seed (still with white pulp) and sink your teeth into it. Needless to say, for a green mango you skip the spoon altogether.

    The other way, you eat the whole mango verde (after washing it, that is) and when I mean the whole thing I mean skin and all (the only thing left will be the seed). You apply the salt/pepper on the skin and munch away.

    I suppose (if you are courageous enough) you could slice the pieces and use them in salads but that is just a supposition, never done it.

  • el_toloc 14 years ago


    But of course you can eat unripened mangos. As a child, growing up in Merida (and even today) I always ate/eat unripe, aka, green mangos. Many people think that you can eat a mango only once it is ripe but that is not a true story, green (unripe) mangos are delicious as well.

    Of course, in order to eat green mangos you must have a very strong stomach because eating unripe mangos can cause an unwanted effect, Montezuma revenge or as we yucatecos call it, "cagalera".

    As a child I used to hear a very popular phrase (which if memory serves right) probably came from a song and it said: Mango verde con sal, y un poquito de agua, y luego veras, como correras (Unripe and/or green mango (eaten) with salt, and a bit of (drinking) water, and later you'll see how much you will run).

    Mango verde is usually eaten with salt and chilli pepper (or just salt or just chilli pepper) but either way you eat it, you have to remember that if you can't handle Montezuma revenge you shouldn't even try eating mango verde, because it is no fun when your stomach starts making knots and you have to be running looking for a bathroom, but if you indeed have a strong stomach and can handle "the effects" then by all means, go ahead and enjoy what many yucatecos have for years, mango verde.

    Note: By the way, there is a possibility that this post will be seen twice, since I wrote the post, tried to post it and somehow the writing went somewhere but (apparently) didn't post so I had to rewrite it and the second time although the idea was the same, the writing was different.

  • 14 years ago


    But of course you can eat an unripened mango, growing up in Merida (and even today) I used to do it (and still do) all of the time. Many people think that mangos must be eaten once they are ripe, but that is not always the case. In some parts (I would imagine of the whole world) you will see unripe mangos sold and eaten, and they are so good.

    When the mango is green and its interior white and depending on the type of mango (because my understanding is that not all unripe mangos are good) you slice the mango as shown in the pictures, add salt and chili pepper and devour the whole thing. Sometimes people (I know I do) eat even the (green) skin so the only part of the fruit left standing is the seed.

    However, eating unripe (green) mangos can (and often) have unexpected results. Depending how strong (or how weak) your stomach is you can get Montezuma revenge out of it. When I was growing up there was a song that said: Mango verde con sal, y un poquito de agua, y luego veras, como correras (Green mango (eaten) with salt, and later a bit of (drinking) water, and later you'll see how much you will run).

    So if you are to eat an unripe mango beware of its effects because if you can't handle cagalera (Montezuma revenge), you are in big trouble, but if your stomach is strong and/or you can handle "the revenge" then by all means, go ahead an enjoy what many yucatecos have enjoyed for years, mango verde (unripe mango).

  • Uchinanchu 14 years ago

    Does anyone know if you can eat an unripened mango, and if so what is the recipe? Also, is there any other use for unripened mangoes?

  • eileen 14 years ago

    thanks for commenting! I like your articles, too. And here's a question, have you ever seen Kim G's method? I like to call it the porcupine method! cut off the nalgas, score them on the fruit side, vertically and horizontally and then flip them inside out! Cubes for the asking.

    Sadly Chile is terribly deficient in mangoes, existing only in the north and not exported to Santiago. We get Ecuadorean mangoes as well, but they're pricey and not as good as eating them close to the source.

    Thanks for making sure the dental floss lobby got their due. Important to give credit, you know.

  • NWCreolelady 15 years ago

    I, too, discovered the joy of eating mangoes this spring and summer. What a great article this was.....sweet and very nice to read!

  • tusreba 15 years ago

    I had my first mango this summer. I never knew how sweet and delicious they are.
    I hope to be able to try some more someday.
    Hope all is well with you and yours!

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