Finally, I succumbed. For several weeks before Christmas I'd been circling the gadget counter in WFM in Kensington High Street, contemplating the array of goodies on display. The Mango Pitter, in particular. Removing the stones from Mangoes is a skill I've never satisfactorily mastered, and the poor fruit tends to look more like roadkill then anything else by the time I've finished hacking with increasing frustration at it! In fact, if the aesthetic quality of the pitted fruit is at all important, then I merely hand it to the Technical Department to deal with (and why not? It's a technical process, after all....) which is generally, a reliable way of dealing with the problem.
As with all such things, though, I finally had an 'Oh, what the Hell' moment, and gave in. For something like the princely sum of eight pounds........I'm not quite sure why I dithered for so long....... the Mango Pitter was mine!
Anyway, I can now report that it works, perfectly. Resembling some kind of arcane surgical appliance, it is in fact designed to slice the flesh faultlessly from around the central stone, leaving you with two perfect halves of fruit, with absolutely minimal wastage. In practice, I discovered that you need to help the process a little at the start by scoring the skin of the fruit in the places where the cutter is first going to bite - which the makers don't suggest anywhere, but which turned out to be necessary on fruit which were absolutely at the right stage of ripeness for eating. I can imagine that if your mangoes are over-ripe, you risk squashing them as you press down on the fruit with the pitter - but, then, if they're over-ripe, you're going to end up with a mess in any event!
Highly recommended - and I can see it will revolutionise the use of mangoes in my kitchen hereafter. Much as the discovery several years ago of the pineapple corer did for pineapple consumption. Previously, the process of cleanly removing the skin of fresh pineapples had been a fiddly and tedious and time-consuming chore, which in practice meant that I didn't often bother with it. Then I came across a pineapple corer, in Filenes in New York (same place and time that I first discovered Microplane graters, in fact), and life was never the same again. I'm not sure how widely known and used these things are these days - they certainly deserve to be in every kitchen, if they aren't already - so it may be that everybody out there already knows about them. Suffice it to say, then, that with one of these things, it becomes possible to core and perfectly peel a ripe, fresh, pineapple inside a minute. Fantastic! One can't help but be impressed by the boffins who invent these sorts of things - and particularly without a battery or an electrical flex in evidence......
Slightly cheekier as a piece of marketing blurb was the claim for the new Zyliss garlic press that I've just bought for Italy (where the old one has just about given up the ghost, having done stalwart service for many years). The new garlic press is smart and stylish, looks very sleek, and does indeed do what the makers claim, and which persuaded me to buy it in the first place: it presses garlic cloves without the need to peel them first. Which, is great, of course. Except that I couldn't see in what way it differed as a piece of engineering from my other garlic press. So......for the first time ever, I tried to press un-peeled garlic with the other press that I've been using in London for decades. It worked! It always would have done - I just hadn't ever thought to try it......In fact, I imagine any garlic press in the land would be equally capable of performing this feat.
You have to give the Zyliss people points for their marketing chutzpah, though!
Oh, should you wish to track one down, the Mango Pitter was made by Oxo Good Grips ......so, I suppose I shouldn't ever have doubted the fact that it would work. Their stuff always does.
Asparagus Mousse, steamed.
Duck Confit, served with Carrots cooked in Bristol Cream.
Baked Apples, stuffed with ratafia biscuits in Hazelnut Syrup.