Never Let Mango

When I was growing up, it was always considered a special occasion to go over to my cousins’ house. And while sure, it was nice to spend time with family, that’s not the real reason I looked forward to it. No, the second we arrived I would dash upstairs into the furthest bedroom down the hallway and prepare for a night of video games.

My parents were big believers that video games were antisocial and addictive, and as a result – we never had them in the house growing up. Like the three protagonists in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, being sheltered from the unknown only peaked my curiosity even further. And what my parents didn’t realize is that gaming is anything BUT isolating – in fact, many games have formed thriving and long-lasting communities.

Super Smash Bros. Melee has an absolutely flourishing community whose dedication to the game makes it an art form. The personas they take on are the varied ingredients that make for a most impressive product. Like a smooth simple syrup, Princess Peach fights sweetly and delicately. Like fresh mint leaves, Marth is cool, subtle, but most of all strong. And Falco is like a generous splash of vodka – a bit unpredictable, but proven to be timeless!

The greatest Melee players have even made a career out of their commitment to a game they love. And so, I’d like to dedicate this post to the Smash Community, and this mango mojito smoothie to Joseph “MaNg0” Marquez. Thank you all for proving to my mom and dad that video games are a good thing. And perhaps since I’m at an age old enough to spike my smoothies with vodka, I can also disobey my parents and break the longtime ban!

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Mango mojito smoothie:

1 cup vodka

2 fresh mangos

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup fresh mint

2 cups ice

Instruction:

1. To make a simple syrup, bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan. As soon as sugar has dissolved into water, turn off heat and add fresh mint leaves. Allow mint leaves to steep for at least five minutes.

2. Peel mango and cut away from pit. Add mango flesh to blender, and puree until completely smooth. Using strainer, add simple syrup and puree again. Add vodka and ice, and puree until smooth.

3. Optionally using strainer to eliminate any lingering bits of mango, transfer blender contents to your desired glass. Add a sprig of mint and a festive straw to serve.

Enjoy a mango mojito smoothie with Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Super Smash Bros. Melee, and check in at http://warandpeach.com soon!

Atone-Mint

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, and this past weekend I celebrated in the best way possible. With my sister’s tailor-made Celtic playlist on repeat, I sat in a cozy pub in a small English river town and watched the Ireland v. Wales rugby game. Though loyalties in the pub were split down the middle (and Ireland ultimately lost the game), the sense of community was very strong.

There are, however, things I miss about the US (and particularly, the Boston) way of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I miss the kelly-green clothing exploding on sidewalks, wondering about the disgusting process that must go into turning beer green, and most of all, sipping on a McDonald’s shamrock shake.

In so many years past, I haven’t questioned the decision to consume a frozen, neon green, fast food drink. Now, as a somewhat grown up, I can look back on the decision to partake in such an unnatural dessert. Like Briony, Ian McEwan’s main character in Atonement, decisions and judgment calls made in younger years must now be called into question. I’ve retained the minty flavor and festive sentiment, but have attempted a slightly more refined presentation. Sometimes we need to atone for our past choices.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Peppermint cupcakes:

1 cup flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup boiling water

50 g dark baking chocolate (or milk chocolate if you prefer)

3/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

2 eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Instruction:

1. Whisk boiling water, cocoa powder, and baking chocolate in medium bowl.

2. Continue to whisk, adding peppermint extract, eggs, sour cream, and vegetable oil.

3. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt in gradually.

4. Pour smooth mixture into greased or lined cupcake tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

5. Let cool, then decorate with favorite icing recipe.

Enjoy peppermint cupcakes with Ian McEwan’s Atonement, and check in at http://warandpeach.com for future recipes and book reviews!