An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude
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An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  2,230 ratings  ·  244 reviews
Who hasn't fantasized about leaving their job, saying goodbye to the rat race and escaping to some exotic destination in search of sun, sand, and a different way of life? Ann Vanderhoof and her husband did just that.





In the mid 1990s, the author and her husband were driven, forty-something professionals who were desperate for a break from their harried, deadline-dominated l...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 2003)
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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...more
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
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...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!
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
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
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...more
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...more
Natalie
Jun 14, 2008 Natalie rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition 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
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
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.
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,...more
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
...more
Debra
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
Rachel
An enjoyable and easy read that chronicles the adventures of a middle-aged married couple who give up their jobs for 2 years to sail from Toronto to the Caribbean and back again. What I loved about this book is that it's not a mid-life crisis escape, but rather the story of two people who decided to take a risk while they had the chance. The author and her husband don't rashly head off to the Caribbean - they spend 7 years planning and preparing for their adventure. As they set off, the author s...more
Crystal
This was a delicious book, in ever sense of the word. Even though the thought of eating conch and assorted other ocean creepy crawlies was not appealing, the food described so lovingly throughout the book was mouthwatering. some of the recipes even seem able to be replicated here on mainlain. Ann and Steve were clearly depicted, and thoroughly likable, throughout the book. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to relate to a pair wealthy enough to own a boat and worry about fine wine and liquor, but a...more
Dustin George-Miller
Who hasn't dreamed of quitting their day-job, buying a boat, and cruising the Caribbean for a couple of years? Author Ann Vanderhoof did it with her husband in the late 1990s, and this book is the result.

The book reads a bit like a travelogue at times, and the action seems mostly centered on one or two islands. It seems more like the chronicles of a mid-life crisis (see: Under the Tuscan Sun) than a blow-by-blow of a Caribbean life interlude, but I found it passably entertaining as a reading int...more
Andrea Green burton
I rarely cry when I read books, but this one was an exception. I couldn't help but tear up as I made it through the last few pages (before the "four years later" chapter).
Ann's description of EVERYTHING--sailing, meeting new people, encountering diverse cultures, eating, cooking--was just delightful, easy to read, and completely engrossing. Their experiences felt like mine, start to finish. And at the end, I didn't wish for their journey to continue just so I could continue reading; I truly didn...more
Jessie
Jul 12, 2008 Jessie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: everyone... unless you're inclined to run away to the Caribbean when you shouldn't
Feeling a little bit suffocated in your current job? Stressed all the time? Or just wishing you could slow down, even just for a week? If that's you, I don't know if this is the right book for you.

Ann Vanderhoof (the author) and her husband decide to take a two year break from their stressful, go go lifestyle to sail from Canada, down to and around the Caribbean and back. She starts off with the similar apprehensions that I would have if I was considering taking a two year hiatus to go relax (om...more
Erica
This was such a wonderful book to read while sailing in the Chesapeake for 10 days. It served as good motivation to start my own sailing interlude!
Entertaining account of the sailing lifestyle she and her husband undertook for two years. She portrays and chronicles the culture of the islands they pass though with relevant recipes and fun excerpts from the islands they fall in love with.
Deb
An excellent foodie-travel read. Vanderhoof and her husband leave their jobs and life in Toronto to sail to and through the Caribbean on the Receta, their 42 ft sailboat. Wonderfully descriptive about the trip, people, traditions and of course the food--it is a great way to escape and live vicariously through Vanderhoof's adventures, you can almost feel the tropical sun. There are plenty of recipes for Caribbean food and drink included to keep the mood going.

I'll be doing a more detailed review...more
Beth Browne
This is a wonderfully written account of the author's adventures cruising the Caribbean on a small sailboat. Only two things kept me from giving it five stars, the food and the end. The author is obviously a foodie and I'm not. The recipes were just fluff imo. And at the end, both my partner and I wondered *why* they went back to Canada. No explanation was given and it was so sad at the end, we just wanted to know why they quit cruising. Probably it was financial, but it seemed like they could h...more
Cyrille
First, much like the Adventurers themselves, Ann and Steve, I hated to see this adventure come to an end. As they crept as slowly as they could manage back toward Toronto, I too started reading more and more slowly and in smaller chunks.

Much like "Eat Pray Love" I felt almost as if the author were addressing me directly. In this book, it was more so to be born in the wrong, icy cold climate when really all you want to do is escape to the heat and sun! And being a water person who has always want...more
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“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
“Cheesy Chicken with Avocado and Tomato Salsa Avocados were in season when we arrived in the Dominican Republic, and we said fat and calories be damned and devoured them regularly. This recipe showcases them—and the delicious Dominican cheeses—beautifully. 1⁄3 cup cornmeal Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1⁄4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes 4 boneless chicken breasts 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 clove garlic, halved 1⁄2 lime 1⁄2 cup fresh or store-bought tomato salsa 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and thickly sliced 4 slices mild melting cheese (such as Monterey Jack, mild cheddar, or queso de freir) Fresh cilantro, chopped 1. Combine cornmeal, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Dredge the chicken breasts in the mixture. 2. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan with a lid and gently sauté the garlic for a minute or so. Add the chicken breasts, and sauté until a golden-brown crust has formed on both sides and the breasts are almost done, about 5–7 minutes per side. Squeeze the lime over the chicken. 3. Top each breast with some salsa, a couple of slices of avocado, and a slice of cheese. Lower heat, cover, and cook a minute or two longer until the cheese has melted. Garnish with the cilantro and serve with rice and more sliced avocado and tomato on the side. Serves 4 Tip • This recipe can be easily adapted for the barbecue: Marinate the chicken briefly in a mixture of lime juice, olive oil, chopped cilantro, red pepper flakes (or chopped hot pepper), chopped garlic, and salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat until the chicken is almost done, about 5 minutes per side. Top each breast with salsa, a couple of slices of avocado, and a slice of cheese. Cover the grill and cook a minute or two longer until the cheese has melted.” 0 likes
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