Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mangos, papayas star in a variety of dishes

Excerpts from a 5/27/09 article in the Galveston County Daily News by Bernice Torregrossa

Not long ago, mangos and papayas were rare treats, something fondly remembered from tropical vacations. Now, mangos and papayas are encountered in the produce section of virtually every grocery store. Here, as in many of the warm parts of the world, they’ve become sort of a more-portable snow cone, cooling and sticky-sweet.

Papayas originated in Central America, where Christopher Columbus recorded his enthusiasm for them, calling them “the fruit of the angels.” Spanish and Portuguese explorers took them from the Americas to many of the other territories they visited, including India, the Philippines and parts of Africa.

Like melons, papayas are generally used raw, either eaten alone or chopped in a fruit salad. They also are a frequent ingredient in fruit smoothies, where they add a big boost of vitamin C and antioxidants.

When mixed with other fruit, it’s best to make papayas a last-minute addition, because they contain papain, an enzyme best known for its role as a meat tenderizer. While this makes papaya an excellent addition to marinades, the enzyme does much the same thing on other fruits, and can make them mushy after a while.