Friday, September 26, 2008

A Very Strange Fruit Indeed

One of the most fascinating things I've run into EVER was something Anna's mother had made. She keeps jars of fruit in a sugar syrup, a variety of them... The first day, we had a sugared apricot. That took me back to my childhood: I used to love the super sweet apricots and their syrup.

The second day, Anna said it was some type of citrus. When I bit into it, I discovered it was bergamot rind. That was fascinating! I've never eaten bergamot before but know the flavour from Earl Grey tea and other flavoured things.

The last one was more perplexing. Anna asked me to guess what it was.

From a distance, the syrup in the jar was very dark reddish. I initially guessed prune.

But that wasn't it. Then Anna dared me to guess. Game on, I said. I didn't say anything for a while, as I examined the shape.

Finally, "It looks like a walnut." Anna threw her hands up in disgust (I'd gotten it right)
So I bit into it.

Now that's just crazy: it's the entire walnut, from the outer skin, through the shell, all way way in. And it's all soft, like a fruit. The flavour was only very faintly nutty, very sweet and intensely spiced (there were cloves stuck into it.) My understanding is that the walnuts are preserved and candied when they are still green.

Delicious, and quite unexpected.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Breakfast in Lefkosia

I've been in Lefkosia (Cyprus) one full day now, and after my second breakfast, I've had a revelation: I love the breakfast here! Actually, all of my meals have been lovely so far, but the breakfast was the one that strayed furthest from my norm.

We sit at the table where a wide variety of bowls and plates hold an assortment of foods: a big bowl of fresh fruit, some sliced toasted bread, some butter, some jam... So far pretty standard. Somewhere near the bowl of fruit lurks a plate of whole tomatoes - I suppose that's not that odd... it is a fruit after all. A bowl of black olives, a bowl of green olives drizzled with lemon juice, olive olive and dried coriander - delicious! And then several cheeses.

It's not that strange, it's just not at all the way I usually eat breakfast. At home in the US, I'm more of a hot cereal or eggs girl, at home in Tunisia, I'm strictly coffee, baguette and perhaps a croissant (very rarely a ftira). Here, I take a whole tomato, slice it up, spoon some of the olives onto my plate, and then, best discovery of all, attack my cheese of choice: the dry aged halloumi.

In the US, I've only ever had fresh halloumi, sliced, grilled, fried... any number of ways. Dry halloumi is soooo much better. It's got that crumbly salty goodness of an aged parmesan. The saltiness of the cheese is wonderful with the fresh juicy tomato. Add to the bite a green olive and it's heaven. (I am not generally prejudiced in my black vs. green olive choices, but the additions to the green ones make them utter perfection.)

Sadly no photos yet, but I'll work on that, I promise.