I will concede that there has been one, small advantage to the calorie count revolution: My new fixation with frozen yogurt! See, prior to this cruel twist of regulatory fate, whenever people would talk about Pinkberry or its various knockoffs, I would just tune out. It seemed to be such an obsession with the pseudo-health conscious gym rat set that I figured, okay, as a chick who drinks Yuengling, loves steak, and adores chocolate, what the Hell do I care about yogurt? I even give Tasti D-lite a wide berth. Give me the real deal or GTFO, you know?
But then the storefront on the corner of 34th and 3rd began making its transformation from Latin Corner (which had barely been there a year) to something called Red Mango. I love mangoes. They’re my favorite fruit. They remind me of hot summer days in Kolkata, eating aam and wrinkling my nose at the red, earthen containers of mishti dahi, sweet yogurt, that Mom would have brought from the nearest confectionary shop. Mangoes, I liked, but yogurt…? Not so much. So, anyway, even here in the States, we’d have mangoes whenever they were in season. I love mango ice cream and mango margaritas… I pretty much like everything mango-related except mango lassi.
So when I saw the Red Mango going up, I was immediately intrigued, and immediately had to Google and see what the store was. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a Pinkberry-esque fro-yo place. Now, I have to admit here that when I heard the term “frozen yogurt,” I had two mental pictures: 1)It was just soft serve ice cream, which is what would pass for fro-yo back in Ohio, or 2)It was your Dannon variety yogurt, just a little cold. It turns out that it’s somewhere in between! AND it’s good for you. A small serving, which is more than enough for me, is less than 100 calories.
Yes, I have succumbed. I have tried both the original and green tea flavors, and the tart tang is unmistakably that of “real” yogurt, complete with active cultures. But, somehow, the fact that it’s cold and whipped makes it more palatable. Then, there’s the toppings. At Red Mango, you can get everything from Cocoa Krispies (totally tried that!) to various fruits. Would you believe that it took me until my third visit to realize that they actually had mangoes? (What can I say? I’m not always very smart.)
So, just a few days ago, I did what Fate had no doubt been waiting for me to do… get the original, sweet yogurt, garnished with mangoes. Mishti dahi and aam. And, lo, it was like the Heavens parted and a troupe of apsaras began dancing in my mouth. I finally get it. I finally get why the two flavors go together. And my sense of nostalgia for Kolkata was all wrapped up in those tart-sweet bites.
Hot summer days in New York aren’t quite the same, but thanks to Red Mango, they’re a little closer to home.