Monday, September 5, 2011

it's the time of the season

Like the rainstorms here, in Nicaragua, fruits of the season come in hard, fast, in overwhelming amounts, and then clear out.
 Fruit of the week: Sapote!

 not to be confused with Zapota, or Níspero, a common mistake (“anyone who's anyone can tell the difference, puh-lease!” she guffawed half-heartedly, her martini spilling as her shoulders moved up and down, “ha. ha. ha.” )
 The outside looks like a russet potato, but inside is bright orange, soft with a stone-fruit pit. The inside texture is often soft, like the Hachiya (bell shaped) persimmon, that you only want to eat when very soft to ensure the absence of astringent mouth feel. 
But, unlike the bell persimmon, have no fear in the fruit being slightly firm. I can’t think of another fruit that tastes so good and similar if firm or ripened. YUM. The taste is that of a fuyu (squatty) persimmon mixed with pumpkin. The locals here eat the fruit as a snack. The soft texture reminded me of Libby’s pumpkin purée, so I used the classic Libby’s recipe off the back of a can (well, the internet), and subbed in sapote- DELICIOUS. I’ve got a few Americans swearing it’s better than thanksgiving pumpkin pie. It’s also great because it is rainy, cooler and somewhat autumnal compared to other times of year in Nicaragua, which makes eating this fruit even more worthwhile.
Silvia humoring me for a photo
 I am also fortunate to work in a location with a garden the size of an Olympic sized swimming pool. Silvia and her team have worked with a Canadian organic farmer to train and learn about new products, but she’s got a natural green thumb. Being so rural, getting some fresh produce within walking distance is a great treat. 
oKra. no, no free cars
 Right now, the garden is full of okra, basil, dill, radishes, chiles, tomatillos, and more foods are sprouting up by the day. I give her seeds and pits from fruit we use to asembrar (plant) more. I use them in specials and encourage staff to use them in our employee meals, too. 

Speaking of which, let’s get real with our produce for a second. How do I get staff to eat it? For our staff meals, the best I can get on a plate for vegetables is boiled carrots or cabbage salad. Like, one tiny piece. 
 I want our staff meals to be more than filling, but hearty and healthy! I’ve got pie charts showing how much vegetable I want doled out on the plate, and our current staff meal menu now has tips on the bottom of each day, like: 
add radish to the cabbage salad! roast carrots in oven with a little oil, salt and pepper until caramelized, or add cilantro, lime and sour cream to the beets for a cold salad
dishwashers Katia and Frankie standing in front of the menu and pie charts:
one is for whiteys and one is for nationals (more rice and beans)
the slogan says: "don't be afraid to have more vegetables, they are good for your health"

lastly, one more fruit: with it’s durable, thick skin, passion fruit (calala) has a long season here. It’s also pretty well known, and may be available in foreign markets. It’s great for juice, but I’ve found it is quite tasty and popular as:
passion fruit dressing - try it at home!
*1 cup fresh passion fruit juice
1/4 cup white sugar
1 cup vegetable or soybean oil
1 Tbs. dijon mustard
1 Tbs. chopped mint leaves
salt and pepper
*Make the juice by scooping the flesh and seeds of about 8 fruit into the blender, puréeing and straining, no water added.
Add juice and remaining ingredients back to clean blender and purée until smooth. 
server Maria with a tasty calala beet salad
This dressing goes well with so many salads, even the blue cheese and bacon in a classic Cobb, but I like mine with:
roasted beets
mixed greens
toasted walnuts
feta cheese and 
grilled shrimp

and if you dare, challenge me to sing it with the modified lyrics 
(with practiced hands
to show you how to paint 
and make lanyards...) 
neverforget*copyright B. Johnson 2001

No comments:

Post a Comment