Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Meeting of Two Cultures...via Fruit Salad

In an age of food that emphasizes the quick and easy, fruit salad is a dessert that fulfills these requirements to a "T". All you have to do is cut up whatever fruit you have at hand, throw them in a bowl, mix it around if you're like me and need things to be evenly distributed, and enjoy. There have, of course, been a number of variations on this idea, some involving the use of berries only or the addition of Amaretto liqueur. But the image that comes to my mind when I think of fruit salad does not resemble any of these.
Instead, I picture a creamy mixture laden with cut-up pieces of fruit. Often, the creamy base is composed of milk and sour cream; other times, mango pulp or even vanilla ice cream is used to give it additional flavor and richness. The fruit is diced, if possible, and is from both fresh and canned sources-the presence of cream in the salad allows you to get away with using some canned fruit. Types of fruit used include peaches, pomegranate pears, green grapes, bananas, applies, and pineapple.
This kind fruit salad is typical of many regions of India. As I myself am Indian, this was the only fruit salad I had tasted until I was about seven years old. You can imagine my surprise, therefore, when I was served something quite different at a picnic with a group of friends. A blend of watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, and assorted berries, it was refreshing, delicious, and very different. The idea that a dish with the same name could be so different in two separate cultures was a revelation to me at the time and it piqued my interest in the versatility of food. Both fruit salads fit the bill of what a fruit salad "should" be: quick and easy to make; yet they are, in fact, 'worlds apart'.

Recipe for my family's Indian fruit salad: (to prepare, simply mix together the fruit, add in the sour cream, milk, and sugar, and then top with saffron)
1 28 oz. can of mixed fruit (diced peaches, pears, grapes)
2 bananas, sliced
8 oz can of mandarin oranges
1 apple, diced
1 pomegranate (seeds only)
8 oz. sour cream
2 to 2.5 cups of milk
4 teaspoons of sugar
pinch of saffron

Photo by Rachel Stone

3 comments:

  1. My mom often uses a frozen whipped topping + condensed milk for the creamy base. Your recipe sounds delicious as well!

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  2. Nice post, thanks for sharing this wonderful and useful information with us.

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  3. Mavshi- (Indian for aunt)
    Thousand Oaks, CA

    Very nice post Eesha!! Reminded me of many many sweet, "fruit-salady" and en-"riching" get-togethers!!

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