Posts Tagged ‘fruit salad’

World Cup Fruit Cup

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

My friend Alice Little Grevet, who lives in Paris (lucky Alice!), came up with this recipe title.
Alice is one of those people who frequently paste the word “Gooooooooaaaaaal!!!” on their Facebook pages at this time of year.
Like many people living in the United States, I am following the World Cup only peripherally —primarily by watching British humorist John Oliver’s commentary on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
I’m impressed (but not enough to watch an entire match) that the U.S. team actually appears to be holding its own in the competition—so far, at any rate—but not in any arrogant fashion.
Rooting for the U.S. in the World Cup is rather like rooting for the Red Sox in the good old days when they lost all the time. It’s genteel. 

My fruit cup is also relatively genteel, I hope. It is the only international fruit cup recipe I have, given to me years and years ago by a Spanish woman living in France. 

I’ve written here before about Paris en Films, the film festival organized by my honorary godmother, Dagny Johnson. During my first summer working with the festival we were housed in a one-bedroom apartment on the Avenue Victor Hugo in Paris.
Despite its relative paucity of rooms the apartment was quite grand, with panels of mirrors on the walls that made it appear even grander. We rented it from a Spanish nobleman. Our landlord owned a building in Paris so that he could stay there from time to time and watch marathon features of pornographic films, which were banned in Franco’s Spain.
I found this bizarre. I guess it’s no odder than keeping an apartment in Paris so one can eat the food or go to the museums or look at the gorgeous city, all of which sound perfectly rational to me. But I was a very naïve teenager.
Through this nobleman Dagny found our cook/housekeeper, Nieves Garcia. Madame Garcia’s husband worked at the Spanish Embassy. 

Madame Garcia was a perky suicide blonde who seemed to have a perpetual smile on her face. She wasn’t actually a terrific cook (she had only about four dishes in the repertoire she served our guests), but she had an aura about her that defied anyone to criticize her culinary talents.

My favorite among Madame Garcia’s kitchen creations was her signature fruit cup.
She used whatever fruit was at hand and gave it a little extra zip with sugar, orange juice, and anise liqueur.
In honor of Madame Garcia and of soccer players everywhere I offer her recipe. I tried to find international fruits and juices when I tested it this week. Unfortunately, the only exotic fruits available at my local general store were bananas.
Feel free to add any international fruits you can find—and perhaps to substitute some Brazilian cashew juice (if you can find that) for the o.j.
Although you may of course use another liqueur in place of the anise I counsel against it. The licorice taste contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the fruit and really makes this dish. 

Your guests may well yell “Gooooooooaaaaaal!!!” as they eat.

Madame Garcia’s Spanish Parisian Fruit Cup
6 cups assorted fruit
2 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
2 tablespoons orange juice (or to taste)
2 tablespoons anise liqueur (or to taste)
Place the fruit in a pretty bowl. Measure out the remaining ingredients in the order in which they appear above. 

Allow the fruit to marinate for at least 15 minutes. Serves 6.

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Cryin’ Pepper Fruit Salad

Monday, April 12th, 2010

I love fresh fruit. It’s sweet. It’s colorful. It’s refreshing. And you can do just about anything with it.
I have to admit I would never have thought of putting pepper on it until I met Mary Cantu.
Smart, energetic, and fun, Mary is the co-chair of the Mount Holyoke Club of San Antonio. The club imported me for a cooking session last June, and Mary couldn’t have been a better hostess.
Knowing the way to a food writer’s heart, she took me out to a memorable lunch followed by a whirlwind trip to Central Market.
When I wrote about the strawberry lemonade at Central Market I said that if the store had existed when I was in graduate school in Texas I probably would never have left the state—and I stand by my words.
It’s an exciting grocery store, one that takes pride in offering a variety of fresh foods and letting the shopper know where those foods were grown and raised.
Coming from New England, where fresh produce was only just starting to appear in farmstands, I was completely bowled over by the gorgeous ripe blueberries, corn, and peaches on the shelves there.
As we were touring San Antonio Mary described one of her favorite desserts. In both Texas and California, she told me, restaurants and farmers-market vendors are now increasingly serving fruit salad with a hint of spice instead of sugar.
Mary was kind enough to send me a pepper blend specially created for fruit salad. Unfortunately, I’m out of it and don’t know where to get more—so I am currently resorting to cayenne. She also sent me a recipe, which I have lost.
Luckily, the basic components of this salad are pretty simple–fresh fruit, lime, and a hint of pepper.
Be very careful! The first time I tried the cayenne I put in too much. My nephew Michael immediately dubbed the result “cryin’ pepper salad.” If you add pepper sparingly, however, the salad may well inspire you to dance around the kitchen.

The Salad
6 cups chopped fresh fruit (preferably not berries; I used pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, and mango)
the juice of 1 large lime
cayenne pepper to taste (begin with a tiny pinch)
a pinch of sea salt (optional)
In a large bowl stir together the fruit and lime juice. Add a pinch of cayenne and taste the mixture. Add a little more cayenne if you think the fruit can handle it.
At the last minute stir in the salt. (I think it makes the salad a little sweeter.)
Serves 6.

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