You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
While most of us heard that phrase from our parents — probably as we were choosing our clothes and preparing for the first day of school, a first date or maybe even our first job interview — the same principle applies to the first time we try a new food. If it tastes good, we like it. If it doesn’t, we don’t.
Of course, taste is subjective. There are some flavors and textures one person may love and another simply can’t stand. For instance, I can’t imagine any circumstance in which I would enjoy taking a big bite of pickled herring. Many of my Scandinavian friends would disagree.
As parents, we introduce new foods to our small children on almost a daily basis. Along with most parental duties, it’s an awesome responsibility. And one we shouldn’t take lightly, especially with fruits and vegetables. After all, if our kids begin their lives with healthy eating habits, they’re much more likely to retain those habits as they grow older.
I know when I eat a fruit or vegetable, I like it better if:
• It’s in season;
• It’s ripe, and
• It’s in good condition.
I find the same rule applies to little ones who are eating those same foods. So often we set a mushy pear or a tomato with the taste and texture of pink felt in front of our kids, and if they don’t dive in, we assume they don’t like it.
Worse yet, because they’ve tasted only mediocre or worse versions of what we’re trying to tempt them with, they learn not to like it. That’s not fair to the child or the pear.
So when fruit is in season and perfectly ripe, I feel a special obligation not only to eat as much of it myself as is reasonable, but also to include it in my family’s meals for as long as it tastes good.
Sometimes that means weeks of asparagus, Brussels sprouts or blueberries. But that’s OK, because when they’re at their best, I don’t get too many complaints.
Right now, my family is loving mangoes — Alphonso mangoes, to be specific. Although I love them all, Alphonso mangos are the best, with a rich, sweet flavor and silky smooth texture. They’re in season in May until the end of summer.
I spotted them in packs of six at Costco the other day and jumped at the chance to stock up. Now I need to use them all before they go bad.
Not a problem. I usually just cut around the long, thin pit on both sides, leaving me with two pitless halves, score them, turn them inside out and eat the flesh away from the peel, right over the sink.
When I can resist the urge and actually get them into a recipe, my family loves mango salsa. I like to pair it with grilled seafood or poultry.
When they’re in season and perfectly ripe, there’s nothing better.
Meredith Deeds of Edina is the author of “Everyday to Entertaining” and “The Big Book of Appetizers.” Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @meredithdeeds.