Chef Sean Kuylen at Hopkins Mango Fest 2016

You know that feeling when you are in primary school and there is a school trip leaving at 5am and you can’t sleep the night before because of pure excitement? It is hard to explain and I guess this feeling is a Belizean thing and only we would understand. However, I get this same feeling when I start to see and smell blossoms on the mango trees at the beginning of May. They line the highway, villages and river banks. The connotations of biting into that sweet yellow fruit, pulling hair out of your teeth as it run down your elbow or the incomparable tart green mango with salt and habanero pepper with lime. Fact:  you can’t read that line again without the saliva glands in your mouth going crazy….guaranteed!

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I can still remember my Grandmother Mrs Manuela Young cussing us in every language as a youth as my friends and climbed her Common Mango tree as soon as that school bell rang at Sacred Heart Primary School in Dangriga.

Fast forward to today, nothing has changed and the mango season still entice the children in uniform coming from school as they stain their white shirts from ‘stoning’ the fruit off the highest limb. you are sure to see adults alike sit on their verandah’s with buckets in-front of them as they suck on this addictive fruit. This is the way of life…

Now we have a Mango Festival in the Village of Hopkins celebrating all things mangoes. As a youth I would eat even mango because it was nice, even ones with flux! haha. Now as a chef, I carefully select green ones for pickling, chutneys and salads and the ripest, juiciest ones for sauces pairing with the traditional Darasa, or drizzled over our favorite coconut ‘tableta’, as a dipping sauce for conch fritter or in a pico de gallo with pork pibil.  The recipes using mangoes are limited only by the imagination because the properties of this fruit entice all the senses of sight, touch, taste, smell and even the hearing as they fall on those rusty zinc rooftops!

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