Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I grew up hating fruit salad. The only kind my parents ever made was my great-grandmother Kunka's recipe, which was a conglomeration of fruits and marshmallows. While this might sound good in theory, it's especially bad in leftovers. But Kunka was the family Queen of Desserts, and made desserts and all kinds of sweets all the time.
I always knew that she was coming over because my parents would make her dreaded fruit salad. One day, when I was about five or so, I asked my cousin (who is one year older than I) in a very soft whisper, "Do you like Kunka's fruit salad? I think it's gross." She then got huffy and said, "Spice, just eat it!" and stormed out of the kitchen. Yes, we do still get along today.
But because of this, I didn't eat fruit salad for a very long time. It wasn't until I hit my 20s that I realized I didn't like fruit salad because the flavors all blend together too much. When it's eaten like that, you can't appreciate the flavor of each different kind of fruit.
About six months ago, my boyfriend Serrano and I were eating the nearby diner Harbor House Cafe, and when I asked my server for fruit instead of fries, she asked me what fruit I wanted. I found this surprisingly wonderful. I got oranges and strawberries and a few grapes. It was delicious.
So here are my tips on what I think makes a great fruit salad.
1. Only use the fruits you like. Even if you're cooking for other people, it's always best to make something that satisfies your taste buds. So don't waste time on the fruits other people like, or you won't enjoy it as much, not to mention you'll waste food by picking out the pieces you don't like.
2. Only use what's in season. Most of the time we are able (especially here in So Cal) to get fruits that aren't in season, and that works if the fruit still tastes good. But it's best, if you can, to use fruits that are in season and are at their best.
3. Make your fruit salad last. If you're preparing food for a meal, or even for yourself, I recommend waiting until the last minute to make your fruit salad. This way, the fruit will taste the most fresh and the different flavors won't have time to bleed together. They'll remain distinct.
4. Consider the textures and flavors. The best fruit salad is one that has different textures and flavors that complement each other. The fruit salad I have pictured above is very, very simple but also taste good. The pineapple and banana have such different textures and flavors, but if you have a small bite of each together, it all blends deliciously. However, most also like color in their fruit salad, so one such as that could also include blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries.
5. Divide the fruit for storage. If you're like me and don't like the taste of fruit pieces that all taste the same, but you need to store your fruit, put it in different containers. This way it's still chopped up and ready to go, but has its own flavor. Also, if you always want to have pieces of fruit ready for salads or snacking, it's easiest to prepare it all after you buy it. After you get home from the store, wash, chop, and prepare the fruit, then put it in tupperware in the refrigerator. It may not keep as well, but then it's a handy and healthy snack.