Mangoes cultivate a sense of community in Osceola Park

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By Caryn Stumpfl The Pineapple Contributing Writer DELRAY BEACH, FL – What started as a friendly neighborhood competition in 2012 has turned into a full-bloom celebration of one of Delray’s most prolific products: the mango. Last month, the fourth annual Mango Swap event in the Osceola Park neighborhood of Delray Beach featured a recipe swap, a tasting contest, a “biggest mango” contest and more fun-filled events with over 100 participants. Mango trees shade almost every home in this neighborhood. The sweet summer breeze stimulates excitement every year, and tales of mango orchards past are told. “I know for sure that my cottage was used as a mango packing plant,” reported neighbor Don Thorpe. During the event held at Currie Commons Park at 750 Southeast Second Avenue, kids enjoyed mango bowling, mango spoon races and a carving expedition on the lawn. Local tiki “signologist” Race Russo presented winners with their own signs to proudly display in their yards. “It is a coveted prize that we take pride in,” says past recipe winner, Janice Abrahim,who wows neighbors with her crowd-pleasing Cinnamon Mango recipe. “We all try to outdo each other.” Last year, the dish to beat was Mango Lionfish Ceviche. This year, Jim Ballentine’s Mango Pizza took home the prize for best recipe. Mango Swap demands participation by all attendees, so in addition to a variety of contests and activities, some share their talents through art. Sharon Koskoff, a mural artist, created a six-foot mural this year that will inspire others to add a touch of their own creativity. According to neighbor Lisa Quillian, “We often refer to our neighborhood as ‘Artceola Park’ because we do the Art in the Alley project every year.” The neighbors here really love their mangoes! They’ve uncovered hidden treasures in local town history, like the original 1914 realty ad from their neighborhood as well as ads from mango fruit stands, and even an opinion article in the local press from the 1950s revealing that mangos were going to waste because of candy. At the first Mango Swap event in 2012, a member of the famous Zill family participated in the event. He brought samples of mango varieties, and even one named “Wally” (the one he convinced his father to keep producing). The “Zill mango,” named for horticulturist Lawrence Zill, originated in South Florida. This particular mango, abundant in Delray Beach, is known for its color, eating quality and good production. Award-Winning Recipes from Mango Swap 2015 Cinnamon Mangoes Ingredients: 5 James Quillian Half-Ripe Mangoes (any local mangoes will do) 5 Tablespoons Sugar Red Food Coloring 5 Sticks Cinnamon Bark 2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon 2 Teaspoons Cardamon Directions: Cut mangoes in slices. Wash and sprinkle with salt, cover and let sit overnight. Put in pot with sugar, water and cinnamon bark, cover and let mangoes cook on low heat until soft. Add ground cinnamon and cardamom. Remove from heat and then add food coloring. Let cool. Jimmy B’s Spicy Mango and Prosciutto Pizza Start with 400-degree oven or grill Prep dough or use naan bread Slather on garlic olive oil Cover with lots of cheese (six-blended Italian) Add more cheese Add lots of cubed fresh mangoes Add lots of chopped prosciutto Add some chopped onions Add chopped Serrano peppers (no seeds or core) Cook for 10-12 minutes for naan bread Cook for 18-20 minutes for pizza dough Add basil and voila!