Book Review: An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof

An Embarrassment of MangoesHave you ever wanted, or should I ask how often have you wanted, to just put your everyday life on hold and run away to a Caribbean island? Do you like to travel in a way that lets you actually get to know the locals and test yourself at the same time?  This is your book, and this may be your next adventure.

Part travelogue, part recipe book Ms. Vanderhoof takes us on a wonderful journey from Toronto, down the Eastern Seaboard and into the Caribbean, stopping in 16 different countries along the way. Each section of the journey is peopled with locals, and other sailors, who are willing to share their lives and their stories as they come alongside each other. You’ll meet wonderful characters like the Minister of Rum, the Mr. Butters who has a garden hidden of the side of an island and “November Mike” the voice of the U.S. National Weather Service

You’ll ride out a hurricane in a tiny bay; learn the best way to brave the Gulf Stream that runs between the Florida Keys and Bimini, pound conch into submission and eat mangoes fresh from the trees.

At the very least you’ll gain a real appreciation for the islands and people of the Caribbean and be able to bring that to your own home by trying some of the recipes included in each section. Don’t blame me if your grocery bill goes up.

If, when you’ve finished this book, you find you have a desire to learn to sail, the Library can help with resources. If you want more Ann Vanderhoof, she has a new book out called The Spice Necklace: my adventures in Caribbean cooking, eating and Island Life.  The Library also has lots of other books about people who have radically changed their lives in order to pursue a dream. Try Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Gelman, Eat, Pray, Love  by Elizabeth Gilbert, Big World: a girls own adventure by Claire Brownsworth or In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson.   Dream on.

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