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An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude [Paperback]

Ann Vanderhoof
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Feb 2005
Under the Tuscan Sun meets the wide-open sea . . . An Embarrassment of Mangoes is a delicious chronicle of leaving the type-A lifestyle behind -- and discovering the seductive secrets of life in the Caribbean.

Who hasn’t fantasized about chucking the job, saying goodbye to the rat race, and escaping to some exotic destination in search of sun, sand, and a different way of life? Canadians Ann Vanderhoof and her husband, Steve did just that.

In the mid 1990s, they were driven, forty-something professionals who were desperate for a break from their deadline-dominated, career-defined lives. So they quit their jobs, rented out their house, moved onto a 42-foot sailboat called Receta (“recipe,” in Spanish), and set sail for the Caribbean on a two-year voyage of culinary and cultural discovery.

In lavish detail that will have you packing your swimsuit and dashing for the airport, Vanderhoof describes the sun-drenched landscapes, enchanting characters and mouthwatering tastes that season their new lifestyle. Come along for the ride and be seduced by Caribbean rhythms as she and Steve sip rum with their island neighbors, hike lush rain forests, pull their supper out of the sea, and adapt to life on “island time.”

Exchanging business clothes for bare feet, they drop anchor in 16 countries -- 47 individual islands -- where they explore secluded beaches and shop lively local markets. Along the way, Ann records the delectable dishes they encounter -- from cracked conch in the Bahamas to curried lobster in Grenada, from Dominican papaya salsa to classic West Indian rum punch -- and incorporates these enticing recipes into the text so that readers can participate in the adventure.

Almost as good as making the journey itself, An Embarrassment of Mangoes is an intimate account that conjures all the irresistible beauty and bounty from the Bahamas to Trinidad -- and just may compel you to make a rash decision that will land you in paradise.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (8 Feb 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767914279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767914277
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.3 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,049,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Perhaps the hardest thing, we realized in hindsight, was making the decision to go. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an embarrassment of mangoes 14 Jun 2005
One of those 'can't put it down' books! I thoroughly enjoyed this journey and the people and places I met on the way. Very descriptive and some mouthwatering recipes at the end of each chapter. As much as Ann and Steve didn't want their travels to end, I didn't want the book to finish.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brings the Caribbean to life 17 Jan 2005
The Caribbean is one of my favourite places in the world, and there seems remarkably little travel writing focussing on it, so I was delighted to come across this book.
The balance between sailing anecdotes, island stories and recipes was, in my opinion, just about right. I was not particularly interested in the technicalities of sailing when I first started reading - it's a mark of how well Ann Vanderhoof manages to get her reader to empathise with her, that I was drawn in all the same. The chapters on Grenada were particularly good, no doubt because of the relationships which developed between Ann, her partner Steve and some of the locals - there was more insight and emotional pull, alongside some wonderful descriptions of the island's flora - in particular the nutmeg plantation. I was also favourably impressed with some of the recipes. Some ingredients are demystified, there is a "hunter/gatherer" mentality over a variety of different things pervading the book, and I loved the descriptions of the preparation of conch and lobster.
By the time I reached the conclusion of the book, I felt really sorry that the couple had to return to Canada, and felt that I'd been on quite an emotional journey with them. I only wish that they could have spent longer exploring some of the other islands and therefore expanded the book. It seems a shame, for instance, to visit Trinidad and not Tobago, and to either completely bypass or rush through wonderful places such as Nevis and the British Virgin Islands.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Antidote for the Midwinter Blahs! 25 Feb 2004
By A Customer
Thank you Ann Vanderhoof for lifting me out of the grey that is Toronto in February. An Embarrasment of Mangoes is a wonderful and unique escape to the colours and warmth of the Caribbean.
Being a sailor myself, the female perspective on "sailing away" for a year (or two) is always fascinating. I've read many cruising stories, but they're usually written from either the male point of view or concern themselves with the psychological wrench of leaving friends and family behind while going off crusing. Ann's book is a breath of fresh air! Ann's love of food and cooking is obvious and her sense of humour is contagious.
Makes me want to run right out to the store to buy some of those mangoes - or better still, sail off to the Grenadines to get some for myself....
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5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book!! 8 Jan 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I grew up in Grenada and was delighted to identify with the contents from the very first line, with a location that I'd been to many times!!!
In the Caribbean so many yachties come and go and it's a pleasure to see how this couple embraced the culture and spirit of each island.
It was also fascinating from a sailing perspective, learning about the highs and lows of their adventure.
A wonderful story that I'm glad Ann shared with the world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Escapism 14 Nov 2006
Anyone familiar with the caribbean or indeed caribbean cuizine will love this book. It tells the story of a couple sailing off to the caribbean during a year off from normal life. Although, not a sailor (yet) I fell in love with the life. Obviously, the couple are real foodies and the recipes and details of ingredients were fab. Great all round book.
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