Sixteen years ago, before the boss hired me, we went to Europe with two others to ride on our bicycles in a big circle. It’s hard to imagine why one would go so far just to ride in a circle, but we were young and therefore quite foolish. We started in Bonn, Germany and pedaled up the Rhine (that is to say south).

For three of us one of our favorite stops was Heidelberg. Some of the more astute among you might note that this is not technically along the Rhine and instead along the Neckar, but it was a short detour to what was supposed to be a cool city.

The proprietor of our campground turned out to be quite a character. We stopped in to get some information at one point and he “forced” us to drink some of his family’s house wine, a gewürztraminer. We’d never had anything of the sort but thought we’d humor him. Sitting on the river on a lovely summer day drinking that cool spicy wine was about as perfect a scene as one could imagine. We wanted to give him some money for the wine, but he wouldn’t accept it. He kept telling us that he was easssygoing (that’s one word, with a long “s”). He used the term a lot and it has become a frequent phrase in our household.

We also toured the castle, walked the old bridge, saw some metal-heads strolling down an idyllic cobblestone way – traditional German stuff.

And one member of our group came down with some horrific allergy that caused her eyes to swell shut so she couldn’t ride for a few days. I’m thinking she doesn’t remember Heidelberg through the same rose colored glasses that we do. Sorry, Laura.

I do believe she sought medical advice and it was determined that she was having an allergic reaction to something she had eaten. Some sort of highly tenuous chain of logic led us to the conclusion that she had eaten a mango and that this had led to the eye-swelling. I’m not sure where she got this mango, but I know they are not native to that part of Germany. It does turn out that the skin, leaves, bark and sap often cause severe reactions.

I’ve tried mangos several times because they look like something I should like, but I can’t get the hang of them. I like the juice and I don’t mind peeling them, but they just don’t sit right. Maybe I’ve just become assimilated to New England too much and something as tropical as a mango fights my core.

Of course I can also claim I’ve never eaten a good mango. The most common variety sold in the temperate world is called the Tommy Atkins. Like so many supermarket fruits it’s valued for disease resistance and shelf life, not flavor. Perhaps I’ll just hold out until I can taste a real ripe mango.

No such worries exist for the youngest boarder. His school just completed a unit on rain forests and ended with a tasting session. I was assuming they’d choose chocolate, cocaine and coffee; that would make for an interesting day in the kindergarten. Luckily I don’t teach six year olds: they tasted bananas, chocolate and mangos.

Elliot has gone all in on mangoes. Since then he’s averaged about two a day. It’s not inexpensive, but they’re loaded with vitamins, fend off scurvy and aren’t too crazy high in bad stuff. They’re also loaded with fiber. The boy’s already a bit too proud of his south end effluence and now he thinks he’s some sort of virtuoso. As far as he’s concerned he’s found the perfect food.

The boss “thinks it’s time to cut back on the mangoes.” At least it’s spring and we can open the windows.

Caleb Rounds

Author: Caleb Rounds

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