It's zaboca season again! And as Keith Smith used to say, we could now tu'n down de pots, and have a bellyful on a zaboca a day, or zaboca every way - tea dinner lunch and punch. Zaboca on toast for breakfast. Zaboca with buljol and coconut bake for brunch. A squeeze of lime on zaboca slices beside a creole pelau. Guacamole - zaboca, lime juice, onion, olive oil and a fiery hot pepper - on crix, with a cold cold beer.
Everywhere you go, you'll see heaps of zaboca - those that ripen in their green skins, and those that turn maroon when ready to eat. I am always on the lookout for a giant pollock such as those that grew on a scrawny tree hanging over a drain on our farm. Until then, I am content with every other zaboca. July-August is the season of plenty in tropical Trinidad.
Jostling for space on the vendor's table will be mangoes! Julie is already there - don't go for size or colour, just check the firmness, smell that sweet fragrance. My favourite is starch, the distinctive acrid undertone when you bring it to your nose - no other mango has the scent of a starch. Look for firm yellow ripe ones freckled with black (sugar) spots. Peel it back with your teeth, and suck it to the seed! Two or three are never enough.
Another favourite mango was one we called stone. I've heard others refer to it as Buxton Spice. Some say it's like a calabash. But the stone that grew on our farm was not like any of these. It remained firm as it ripened to a bright orange in still green skin, had no string, and was the taste of our Santa Cruz sunshine and rain - sweet but tangy. During the 1990 coup, we had a bumper crop, but competed with the horse every time one fell from the tree.
We also had a mango rose tree that must have been 70 feet all. Rose by the hundreds would fall in a few weeks. Best mango for chow (chadon beni, garlic, lime, sugar, salt and hot pepper), chutney or curry mango.
Tropical fruit like mango and zaboca need to be eaten right near the tree. They don't store or ship well. And you can only know when they are ready by smell and pressing ever so gently. Let's enjoy them over the next few weeks, gorge while there's plenty, make chutneys of your mangoes, add zaboca to everything!