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An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  3,108 ratings  ·  294 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
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 8th 2005 by Broadway Books (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

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Kristina
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
Jessica
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
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Austin Collins
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
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Linda
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
A
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
Julie McElhaney
May 17, 2007 Julie McElhaney rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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!
BJ
"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
Sarah
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.
Patty
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
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Phredric
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
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Cara Hinton
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
Natalie
Jun 14, 2008 Natalie rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
Doreen
May 26, 2014 Doreen rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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Stacey Jones
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
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Kate
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
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Fiona
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
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Naina
Jul 17, 2007 Naina rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Susan Mcdonald
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
Jenni V.
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
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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.
Sorcha
A wonderfully inspiring tale of travel and adventure! I loved every page of this book and it only fuels my love for travel!
Nicole
A wonderful cautionary tale: beware or you might become enchanted with the islands and their food.
Shirley
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
Melissa
Ok, so I am deeply regretting that I merely borrowed this book instead of buying it. So much so that its getting bought fairly quickly. It was a pretty good book and I was sorry when it ended.

A nonfiction, it covers the two years that author Ann and her husband Steve go cruising in the Caribbean. They travel many places, weather many storms, and meet a lot of other cruisers and islanders. Some of the places they visit are the Dominican Republic, several towns along the Atlantic coast of the USA,
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Kimberly
Originally posted at Fancy Terrible:

I started reading this on a crisp, bright, fall morning, where the temperature outside barely reached the mid-50s (that’s just out of the single digits for you Celsius folks). It didn’t take much to get me into the smooth, clear waters of the Caribbean, the juicy, brightly colored fruits at the market, the spicy, warm fire of the rum.

Many travel narratives are born from this urge for the traveler to try and find her/himself . . . to pick up after some kind of
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Debra
Mar 21, 2011 Debra added it
This book came as recommended reading prior to my sailing vacation in the British Virgin Islands. Our one week sailing around Tortola andhitting Virgin Gorda, the Bitter End Yacht Club, the Baths, and of course Foxy's was amazing. So much beautiful scenery, being on the water and then under the water. The snorkeling was almost like scuba, but wait!, I'm supposed to be reviewing the book, not the vacation....
I thought it was absolutely wonderful that this young Canadian couple planned for their t
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Katie Kenig
My good friend Jill recommended this book to me a while ago, and I had great plans for it. Since it was a Caribbean travel memoir, it had to be read in the summertime (so I wasn't too consumed with jealousy over the wonderful time the author was having) and preferably, it would be read on vacation.

This July finally fit the bill, and I toted An Embarrassment of Mangoes along with me on our northern camping vacation. While I was in the deep woods and the author and her husband were sailing on deep
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Nicole
This book was phenomenal! I love reading travel autobiographies but this is the best one I have ever read. I have never been so pleased with a book I just happened to stumble upon on a random Borders display. Ann and her husband Steve make the decision to leave their careers and home in Toronto (after sticking to a seven year plan to save money) to spend two years sailing to the Caribbean and back. This book tells of their travels, the friends they meet, and their dedication to the local life.

I
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Keryn
Having just read a travel book with a difference ('A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson') with my Goodreads bookclub, I was inspired to do some more couch travelling,and the cover and title of this book grabbed me. The idea of giving up an executive job and following your dream to travel for 2 years has a familiar tone to it (also the period known as 'the five year plan' to make it happen!). At one point after trying to leave George Town in the Bahamas (also known as 'chicken harbour' for obvious ...more
Brian
If there was ever a book that confirmed my desire to just get on a boat and go sailing for the rest of my life, this was it. Ann Vanderhoof and her husband, Steve, left their jobs in Canada for a two year tour of the Caribbean. Along the way, they faced their fears (night sailing, mechanical breakdowns, hurricanes) and had an experience they'll never forget. Heck, I won't soon forget it, and I just read the book!
The author and her husband also do things that other cruisers might not: they talk t
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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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