Roadside fruit stands in Pout

When a person complains about hot season in Senegal, I think the appropriate response should be, “Yeah… but at least it’s mango season.”

As the temperatures begin to crawl up, the stands begin to fill – then overflow – with bright yellows, oranges, reds and greens. Little ones, medium ones, ones the size of Pape’s head!

What’s in season? Ah, yes. Mangoes!

Although you can buy mangoes on nearly any street corner and the trees decorate Dakar’s landscape, THE place to go to buy tons of mangoes at the best price is the village of Pout, on the road from Dakar to Thiès.

Our favorite vendor, introduced to us by our friend Basse

Here are some good things to know before you get your hands and face all juicy.

If you are sensitive to poison ivy, do not touch mango peels. Mango peel and sap contain urushiol, as do poison ivy and poison sumac. So have someone else peel and cut the fruit for you. (Then thank them profusely so they keep doing it for you.)

The smaller mangoes that are solid yellow are generally fairly stringy. Go for the larger, more colorful varieties.

Personal opinion: the best variety of mangoes in Senegal is called ‘mango soleil’. Ask your nearest vendor for them.

If you cut into a mango that is underripe yet, slice it up and bake it in a pie like you would do with apples.

If you cut into a mango that is overripe, cut it into chunks and freeze it for smoothies or purée it to make mango bread.

If you peel a mango before cutting it, you’re doing it wrong. Come over to our place and we’ll show you a much better way. (Or click here.)

There are many recipes for cakes, pies, breads and jams that include cooking mangoes. Don’t try them. You cannot improve the perfection that is fresh mango.

One exception: frozen chunks of mango on a hot day.

Pay attention here. This is important. Mango season does not last all the way to the end of hot season in November, but rather dies out in late September or early October. So be sure to stock your freezer well in order to last you to the cooler temperatures.

Fresh mango is a great addition to fruit salads, chopped salsas, plain yogurt or lait caillé, granola parfaits, vanilla ice cream…

If you see this guy at a mango stand, move on. He’s probably planning to buy them out.

Any other tips?