Monday, January 5, 2009

A Ray of Sun

The holidays are over and winter is here. So many gray days in Ohio. For years I've thought living through an Ohio winter was really like living in a concrete basement. Now, family has been hit with some illness and it's either the flu or some other dreaded winter affliction. Escape, escape, escape. If you can't go to a warm sunny climate you can try to escape through your plate and I have just the thing.

When I first started traveling to Texas Lee introduced me to one of her south Texas favorite things. A fruit cup. When she told me she wanted to get a fruit cup I couldn't imagine what could be so great about that. Lee plans her trips to Texas around fruit cups and which friend lives near what fruit cup place. When Lee's sweet Mom died I flew to Texas to be with the family. Lee picked me up at the airport and she suggested a fruit cup. (Fruit cups can even be a balm for grief don't you know.) Apparently, while waiting for my flight she found a fruit cup stand near DFW.

By now you are questioning my culinary standards. This is not a plastic dish with a lump of mixed fruit. This is not fruit cocktail. This is a mix of fresh fruits drizzled with freshly squeezed lime juice and sprinkled with salt and chile powder. It's a treat from Mexico that's limited only by your imagination and what you can find to entice you at the market. There is no cooking, simply cutting, layering and seasoning. For this recipe I have called this a Mexican Fruit Plate. Viva Mexico!

Mexican Fruit Plate

1 C bananas sliced about 1 " thick
1 C. strawberries halved
1/2 fresh pineapple cored and cut into chunks the size of the strawberry halves
1 C jicama peeled and cut into strawberry sized chunks
1 C watermelon cut into strawberry sized chunks
1 C. honeydew melon or cantaloupe cut into strawberry sized chunks
1 C apples, peaches or plums cut into strawberry sized chunks
Coconut shavings from fresh coconut
juice of 2-3 fresh limes
3/4 t. chile powder (ancho)
kosher or flake salt

Toss the sliced bananas in the lime juice - coat well. Strain the lime juice and reserve. Gently mix the bananas with the other fruit except coconut. Place the fruit on a large flat platter. I love a white platter because it really shows the fruit. Or you can take the fruit and put it in small piles in a random way on the platter. Strew coconut shaving over the top. Not a lot just enough to add some interest. Drizzle the reserved lime juice over the fruit. Sprinkle the chile powder over the fruit. Sprinkle with the salt. The idea is to dust the salt lightly over the fruit. We are not brining or preserving fresh ham. It's an accent.

If you're a little nervous about the chile powder start with 1/2 t. and check the taste on a piece of fruit. I hate to tell fruit cup virgins this but Lee will always get hot chile powder. This is the person that puts habaneros on everything!

Serve this immediately. You can assemble the fruit earlier but I would do the bananas and then dress with the lime juice, chile powder and salt just before serving.

When you eat this there is no more gray, there is only sun and a sparkle in your mouth.


  1. This is something new to me...a person who has only been as far west as Louisiana as an adult. Sounds delightful, Anne. I will have to google jicama.

    For those who read your blog, I will admit that the first time I ever ate Mexican food (or Tex-Mex) was at your apartment in Tiffin in 1969. You invited Ted and I for dinner and served tacos. I had never seen or eaten them before. What a sheltered life I had lead back then!!!!

    I am going to try fruit cups cause I could use a little less gray in my life.

    Thanks Henry

  2. I remember that. We made home made tortillas with masa harina. I was amazed to find masa at the grocery. Thank you to the migrant population that purchased masa. Thank you for that memory!