by featured contributor, Troy Farmer
There’s something about living in New York that really makes you hunger for warm weather. Maybe it’s the massively long, brutal winters that, while technically more forgiving than other cities’ winters, seem just that much more confining as most of us are car-less and forced to trudge through terribleness and weather the storm for months, so to speak. Regardless though, New York at the end of winter—or, in this case, in the midst of a unseasonably cool, rainy, craphats spring—starts to burst at the seams in anticipation of those fabled sunny, jacket-less times. We all start to come out of this wake-work-home-sleep hibernation and begin to remember that, hey, being outside used to not suck.
I, for one, am beyond psyched that those times are nearly upon us, and, with them, all the light summer fare that graces fresh meals and food-centric get-togethers. One dish that’s great for most any warm-weather occasion is Mango Jicama Salad. Super-easy to make, yet still intensely tasty and fresh, this is an especially great addition to any park-side or backyard soirée. Mango most everyone knows and likely loves by now. But the key to this salad is the addition of the lesser known jicama, a sweet-tasting Mexican root vegetable with the texture of a water chestnut. Mix in some lime and a little cayenne for that surprising twist of spice, and you’re about ready to impress your friends and put all those humus and cracker platters to shame (sorry, Sabra).
Of course, with warm weather and outdoor parties also comes fun, dance your ass off party music. No more boarding yourself up and listening to the Cure all day long. No, no. It’s time to get out there and dance. And I can think of no one better band to shake your booty to right now than Cambridge, Massachusetts’ Passion Pit. I know I get on stuck on these bouts of musical fixations, but I’ve been obsessed with their music since I first heard it last summer. http://www.myspace.com/passionpitjams
Passion Pit started in 2007 when mastermind and vocalist, Michael Angelakos, recorded a six-song EP to give to his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day (thanks for upping the ante there, Mike). The EP, titled Chunk of Change, then started making the rounds at Emerson College, where Angelakos went to school at the time. Now, as a full-on group with reportedly wildly fun live shows, the band is set to release their first full-length, Manners, May 19th on NYC-based French Kiss Records (also home of faves Cut Off Your Hands and The Dodos). Based on the little bit I’ve heard so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up being one of the best records of the year.
In short, simplistic terms, the music is great and you must obtain as much as you can right now. I’ve waited long past my required month to make sure I’m not just caught up in an auditory fad, and I love these guys. Angelakos’ voice is high-pitched, strained with positive emotion and far from perfection in the most perfect of ways. Webbed under his singing is a glitchy, mess of electronics and percussion that’s skillfully molded into poppy, beautifully written and wholly original pieces that make you feel like skipping down the sidewalk as you listen to them. Think emotive, post-modern disco. Fruity, exciting, and enticing, their a perfect match for Mango Jicama Salad, I have to say.
Two of my favorite tracks from Chunk of Change: Smile Upon Me
I’ve Got Your Number
Along with a few tracks form the forthcoming full-length, Manners:
and the not as upbeat but quite beautiful Moth’s Wings
Yes, that is a man singing. Really.
Also, a bizarrely awesome remix/cover of Sleepyhead (from Chunk of Change) by the Murmurs (remember them?) via Palms Out Sounds - [audio http://palmsout.net/music/joee/Sleepyhead.mp3|leftbg=0x9ACB9A|rightbg=0x336633]
Alright, on to the food!
- 1 Ripe Medium to Large Mango
- 1 Medium Jicama (about 1 lb. In weight)
- Juice from 2 Squeezed Limes
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Cilantro
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Mint (any variety)
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 1/2 Tsp Ground Cayenne
- First off, when you use the mango, make sure it’s solid, not squishy, but gives a bit to the touch. Usually, the more red it is, the more ripe it is. Score the skin of the mango with a knife in quarters and then carefully peel it from the meat of the fruit. If the mango is too ripe, the fruit may be a little harder to separate from the skin, so just go back and cut the excess from the pieces of peel.
- Carefully (it can be slippery) slice the mango into thin rods, about 1/2 of an inch square and two or three inches long.
- Throw it all in a large mixing bowl.
- Next, carefully cut the brown rind from the jicama. I usually use an actual knife rather than a peeler, as the rind can be a bit tough for most peelers. At this point it’ll look pretty much like a giant macadamia nut.
- Quarter the jicama and then slice it into 1/2 inch slices. Now cut the slices into rods that approximately match the mango pieces in size and shape.
- Add the jicama to the bowl.
- Next, chop your herbs, add them to them bowl along with the lime juice, salt, and cayenne, and mix thoroughly but gently, to avoid breaking up too many pieces of jicama or pulverizing the mango.
- Chill for half an hour or more, and you’re good to go. Get out there and enjoy that weather!