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An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,512 Ratings  ·  331 Reviews
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, Stev
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 8th 2005 by Broadway Books (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I almost cried when I finished this book. There is such a sense of peace and contentment with life that is exuded from the pages of this book. It's not high literature, it doesn't contain fancy prose; it is just one damn fine book to read for the pure pleasure of reading. It is the book that is embodies what it means to lose oneself in a book. For myself, I know that as much as I would love to, I will probably never take two years off from my life and career and sail around the Caribbean. But do ...more
Austin Collins
Dec 02, 2013 Austin Collins rated it really liked it
There are sailing books about sailing and then there are sailing books about people and places. This is a sailing book about people, places and cooking – lots of cooking.

If you love food and travel, you will enjoy the heck out of this story for that alone, even if you couldn't give two hoots about boats. And if you love food, travel, rum, and the freedom of the open sea, you will love An Embarrassment of Mangoes.

Unlike sailing books that spin terrifying tales of storms and fatigue and jagged roc
As the book blurb states, "An Embarassment of Mangoes" is remniscent of "Under the Tuscan Sun" in that it is a travel memoir about a women who steps away from her "real life" of working her job and the dealing with other everyday stresses. The author and her husband take 2 years off from their work and set sail from Toronto to the Caribbean.

The book really made me want to do the same...especially now when I am bogged down with deadlines and too much work at the office. I NEED A VACATION!!!

The a
Ann and Steve Vanderhoof won't need to look back someday and regret not living out their dreams. Twenty years ago, approaching middle age, they took a two-year hiatus from their busy, stress-filled lives in Toronto, packed up some essentials and sailed their 42-foot sailboat to the Caribbean and back, lingering among the islands as the spirit moved them, making friends among the islanders and other cruisers along the way, and otherwise immersing themselves in tropical culture and life. They had ...more
Feb 03, 2014 A rated it liked it
Shelves: travel-books
I really enjoyed "An Embarrassment of Mangoes", but it didn't quite rise to the standards of 4 stars. It was a solid 3.5 and a couple of chapters made it to 5 stars, but it was just a bit too inconsistent to make the 4 star rank. The basic premise is that this couple from Toronto take the plunge, quit their jobs and head off for a two year adventure down the coast of the US through the Caribbean to Trinidad before returning to Canada. I applaud the hutzzpah that it took to quit their jobs and re ...more
Jul 17, 2007 Naina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dreamers
This book is a must read for all travellers, travel enthusiasts or people who just like to day dream about getting away. The book is about a couple's year long adventure sailing the Carribean in their Sailboat. They encounter culture, crazy weather and awesome food. I loved that the mix of memoir, travelogue, cookbook, sailing guide all rolled into one. This book will make you want to quit your day job and leave for an adventure.
Julie McElhaney
May 17, 2007 Julie McElhaney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone that needs to get away!
Shelves: travel
If this book doesn't make you want to learn to sail, nothing will! A fun trip through the Caribbean and some tasty recipes to boot!
3.0 stars (liked).

"The water is placid, soft, blazingly turquoise---a pool of melted gemstones..."

"...blinding forks of lightning are sizzling down from the night sky and stabbing the surface of the sea around us."

From moments of tranquility to moments of treachery, it is an adventure for the reader to vicariously hop onboard Receta, a 42-foot sailboat, and embark on a two-year, round-trip journey through the Caribbean with Toronto couple, Ann and Steve. After admiring them at the beginning of
May 22, 2011 BJ rated it really liked it
"An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude" is the first in a duet of memoirs by Ann Vanderhoof (the second is titled "The Spice Necklace"). This is the story of 2 late 30s-early 40s Canadians who quit their jobs and spend 2 years sailing first down the coast of North America to the Bahamas and then on through the Caribbean. Ann and her significant other, Steve, are no more than novice sailors. Steve, more experienced, but barely, the sum total of his experience having been on Lake Onta ...more
Oct 23, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
Warning - you will want to travel to Caribbean countries and eat mangoes and other amazing foods. I loved her descriptions of food, and I appreciated that she didn't seem to shy away from some of the issues of poverty and tourism that affect these islands. It was a quick and enjoyable read.
Ann and Steve work hard at their jobs in Canada. They like what they do and fortunately for them they get to work together as well as be married to one another. They have carved out a good life for themselves. However, they have come up with a plan that will change all that - they are going to escape wintery Toronto with a sailboat adventure.

This is the story of a dream. And it is a book for anyone who worries about whether they should attempt their dream. Without giving away the tale that Ann
Dec 21, 2015 PorshaJo rated it really liked it
This is a book about food and travel. But not any kind of travel, its about sailing. Having made a few sailing trips I could relate to this book. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and have passed it onto sailing friends. The book includes details about the trip and the stops to the various islands. But more importantly, it includes wonderful details about food in these islands. The book also includes many wonderful recipes that can be made in a tiny boat kitchen or even at home. I have picked up th ...more
Jul 25, 2012 Phredric rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Two years on a small boat, together 24/7 when one of you starts as a not-very-comfortable sailor... a situation in which I imagine you would learn about about yourself and your partner.

Sadly, for me, Vanderhoof stays away from disclosing anything about herself, her husband and how the voyage changed them and their relationship, maybe even their relationship with others. She sticks to pleasant enough descriptions of the places and people, and there are some nice recipes, but the book lacked soul
Cara Hinton
Jan 29, 2015 Cara Hinton rated it really liked it
Another really good book to savor. It's not a quick read that has you turning the pages to get to the next part. But I applaud the author's verve at going to sea on a sail boat for 2 years! That is quite an accomplishment, and definitely something to write about. Since I moved to the Caribbean in 1997, our timing was very closely mirrored. However, I chose to stay and never go back to the corporate life, they somehow carved out time to do both and be successful at it. Cheers to them for making i ...more
Jun 14, 2008 Natalie rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who want to run away from home, wannabe pirates, mango enthusiasts
I originally picked up this book because I have always wanted to run away from responsibilities and have some sort of adventure. The story was interesting enough and the descriptions of the islands definitely made me want to sail around the world. However, the actual book wasn't very gripping and she didn't describe the characters thoroughly enough for me to care about them. She did include descriptions and recipes for some delicious-sounding dishes. Despite that (and even though I hate to stop ...more
May 26, 2014 Doreen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Diane
Recommended to Doreen by: Marisa
This voyage from Toronto to the islands of the Caribbean is well-told and absolutely irresistible. It's a fun story. Every aspect of sailing and island life is addressed here. Reading it, I felt that I was right there, experiencing all the wonders of the sea. I tasted the native dishes, visited with all the colorful characters, fished off the side of the boat, experienced nausea on rough seas, and partied into the night! The author shares with the reader, completely. Nothing is held back.

The au
Stacey Jones
Jan 15, 2015 Stacey Jones rated it really liked it
If there is a vacation between two covers of a book, this is it! Ann Vanderhoof writes a lilting and lovely travel memoir in An Embarrassment of Mangoes that is so sense-oriented, it even includes recipes for many of the delightful-sounding dishes she references (except plantain latkes--curses!).

The author and her husband decide to drop out of "the real world" and sail their boat from Toronto to Trinidad and back over a period of two years. I'm not a sailor and have actually never been particul
Jan 03, 2015 Kate rated it really liked it
I really liked this book, but there's a sort of tiresome arc of the under-prepared (female?) adventurer that this book exemplifies (see also: Wild; A Blistered Kind of Love; etc.).

First, the hero in question sets a goal for which she is incredibly under-prepared and under-experienced. If you've never backpacked, try the 10-day Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainer, not, say, the entire PCT. If you've never long-haul sailed, try a short two weeks around Maine, not heading for the Caribbean from Tor
Apr 25, 2014 Fiona rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
I am no sailor. I've been on a sailboat on a lake for the a fternoon, but spending two years living and traveling on one? That takes courage. That is what the author did. She and her husband traveled from Toronto,down the eastern seaboard, to the Caribbean islands. This took them two years and she started out as a non-sailor even to the point of being seasick.

In addition to the seafaring stories, Ann has explained beautifully the culture and food of the islands. This was not just a journey of m
Susan Mcdonald
Aug 29, 2013 Susan Mcdonald rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this adventure which is a true story! Especially since sailing is something I will never do...but the novel combined my love of the Caribbean with the dream of taking a sabbatical from work to travel. Even better that it is a Canadian couple from Toronto...Excellent writing and a few tempting recipes to try
Sep 01, 2015 Lauri rated it really liked it
Have you ever wanted to drop out of your stressful life and sail away with your husband to the Caribbean aboard your sailboat, despite your lack of sailing experience? No? Well, apparently I am not the only one, because Ann Vanderhoof and her husband actually did it, and this is their tale. It's a fun read, and every chapter ends with one or two recipes that sound amazing (but most of which I will not be trying because they are not Paleo-friendly). The only thing I didn't like about the book is ...more
Jenni V.
Oct 31, 2014 Jenni V. rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
This was a book club read. It read slower than I expected based on the content. I think the typeface made my eyes tired; I could only read it in short bursts before needing to take a break with something else.

Comparisons are inevitable but if you're looking for something similar to Wild or Eat, Pray, Love, I don't think you'll find it here. Besides the obvious difference that she wasn't alone, this was definitely more travelogue than self-discovery. This isn't a criticism of the book (I wasn't
Missy Tanja
This is my dream. This couple from Toronto had a great adventure. I too, hope mine will come. It eases you into the cruising life. Especially great if you guys are trying to win your wife over to the cruising life. What a great, refreshing read.
3.5 stars

The author, Ann, and her husband, Steve, decided to take two years to sail to and around the Caribbean. This is a memoir of their journey.

I enjoyed this. There was a little too much discussion of local food (with recipes included) for me, but I'm sure there a lots of people who would enjoy that. It does help with describing the culture of all the various places/islands they visited. Along the way, they also met plenty of other cruisers and locals. At the end of the book, I would have
Jul 15, 2012 Sorcha rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully inspiring tale of travel and adventure! I loved every page of this book and it only fuels my love for travel!
Apr 07, 2011 Nicole rated it really liked it
A wonderful cautionary tale: beware or you might become enchanted with the islands and their food.
Apr 07, 2016 Theresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Take a journey from Canada to the Carribean and back. You'll get the good, the bad, and the ugly in this book. I liked that Ann doesn't sugar coat the trip. She gives you both the shopping for fruit experiences and the wonderful people she met at the markets, but also the throwing up over the side of the boat during the overnight cruising. Oh, and she gives you recipies, lots of recipies.
I was a little bit disappointed with the ending. I would have liked to get more on them settling back into th
May 12, 2015 Shirley rated it really liked it
An embarrassment of Mangoes means, if you are in the Caribbean, the mangoes are in such an abundance and so cheap, you find yourself with heaps of them to eat. Ann and Steve decide to island hop across the Caribbean islands in the RECETA, which is aptly named as Ann loves to cook. She tries traditional Island dishes, and offers Noth American dishes to Islanders. After each chapter, a recipe is offered, from Papaya Salad, to Sauteed Dorado. Personally, I'm going to give Bahamian Mac and Cheese a ...more
Jamie Holcomb
Dec 30, 2015 Jamie Holcomb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2012
Middle-aged white couple buys a sailboard and takes a two-year sea voyage, mostly around the Caribbean. The husband is really the sailor in the family but the wife finds a way to make the trip her own as well—mostly through cooking. Through befriending locals, she learns to cook a variety of new foods and, of course, they have all sorts of adventures—some of them dangerous. I found it a little dull, but only because travel writing just isn’t my cup of tea. It’s fairly engaging; if it sounds like ...more
Tom Klopack
Nov 03, 2015 Tom Klopack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good story well written

I've done some sailing and even a week on a boat with another couple in the British Virgins 30 years ago. But nothing long enough to learn the skills of long passages at night out of sight of land, of fishing and cooking and weather monitoring, of fixing engines and toilets and scraping bottoms. And doing this as a couple with a new way of life. This book described those experiences and left me with the flavor of that life. Don't know, but hope they went back on a boat.
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“Accras (Saltfish Fritters) Accras (or acrats) de morue are saltfish fritters—the French island version of Dingis’s saltfish cakes. (Morue is French for cod.) Serve them as an appetizer or a snack. 1⁄2 pound salt cod or other saltfish, preferably boneless 1 lime 1 small onion, grated 1 clove garlic, grated 1⁄4–1⁄2 hot pepper, seeded and finely minced 1 seasoning pepper or 1⁄2 green bell pepper, finely chopped 1 stalk celery, finely chopped 2 green onions, finely chopped 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme Freshly ground black pepper 1 cup flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1⁄2 cup water (approx.) Vegetable oil for deep frying 1. The night before you want to serve the fritters, put the fish in cold water to soak. Change water 4 or 5 times, squeezing half the lime into the water during each of the last two soakings. 2. Rinse fish, drain, and remove skin and bones if necessary. In a large bowl, finely shred the fish. (See Tips, below.) Add the onion, garlic, peppers, celery, green onions, thyme, and black pepper, and mix well. 3. Combine flour and baking powder and add to fish mixture. Stir thoroughly. Slowly add enough water to make a thick paste. 4. Heat oil to 350°F in a deep fryer or pot. Drop fish mixture by tablespoons into hot oil and fry until golden on both sides. 5. Drain on paper towels and serve hot with hot pepper sauce. Serves 4 Tips • Some saltfish may not shred easily. If that’s the case, chop it finely in a food processor or by hand with a knife. Alternatively, put it in boiling water, turn off the heat, and allow it to cool in the liquid. It should then flake easily. Whichever method you use, be sure to “chip it up fine,” as Dingis says. • Before proceeding with step 2, try a little piece of the soaked fish. If it is still too salty for your taste, soak it again in fresh water.” 1 likes
“Luperón Papaya Salsa There is no such thing as a small papaya in Luperón. I created this salsa to take advantage of the half we regularly had left after breakfast. Serve it alongside grilled chicken or fish—or with cream cheese on crackers, as a happy hour snack. 1⁄2 large ripe papaya, diced (about 2 cups) 1⁄2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced 1⁄2 small red onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings, and rings cut in half 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro 1⁄2–1 small hot red or green pepper, seeded and finely chopped (or to taste) 1 lime, juiced 3 tablespoons fruity olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1. Combine the papaya, cucumber, onion, cilantro, and hot pepper. Set aside. 2. Whisk together the oil and half the lime juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss with papaya mixture. 3. Taste before serving and adjust flavor with additional lime juice. Serves 4 Tips • This salsa works equally well with ripe mango, or a combination of mango and papaya.” 0 likes
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