marrakech + winter fruit salad

I tend to be someone who likes to try the new. I wouldn't go as far to say that I prefer it to the old; rather, I like to hop and skip between them. One Friday night at a favourite restaurant where I can recite the menu from heart, and then the next at a restaurant where I've never been, with a menu that I've never seen. Regarding this topic, I very much appreciate the article "Familiarity Breeds Content" by Frank Bruni, former restaurant critic of the New York Times. Restaurant criticism focuses on the newly opened, and so the article is a good reminder to not forget the veterans in the restaurant industry.

That said, I do not stick to this method when it comes to travel. There are just so many countries, so many cities that I want to introduce myself to. I want to hear how their languages sound first thing in the morning and see what kind of street food they eat very late at night. In fact, there are so many places I want to travel to I feel anxious about going back to the same place twice. This does not apply when the destination is a car ride away or only a one hour flight, but when time differences and layovers and expensive plane tickets come into the picture, then I always want to go somewhere that I haven't already been. 

Just over a month ago I was in Marrakech and the city was bursting with citrus. The oranges were heavy and their juices were sweet. At first, however, I wasn't sure about going. I had already been to Morocco. Never mind that it was already a good seven years ago and I was only in the North - Tangier, Fez and Meknes - I had been there. I had, so to say, crossed it off the list. But boy, am I ever glad that I decided to go back! I had never been to Marrakech and when I was in the country before it was at the end of summer. In other words, I had never been there during citrus season. 

It was worth it and then some to abandon my anxiety about traveling to the same country twice. Marrakech feels worlds apart from Fez and, even more so, than Tangier. Sure, they all have bustling markets and leather babouche for sale, but their geographies and histories make them feel more like cousins rather than siblings. You can recognize the family resemblance, but there is just as much that distinguishes them as there is that relates them. 

I'll be back with more pictures from my week of feasting on citrus, sesame seed bread, views of the Atlas mountains and Berber rugs, but for now I want to encourage you to brighten and sweeten your February. "How?" you ask. Well, with lots of citrus, of course, plump medjool dates, sweet orange blossom water, and fresh mint. 

Since being back in Munich, I've been preserving lemons, adding splashes of rose water to chai tea, eating oranges with cinnamon, and watering my two mint plants with extra devotion. I've also been making fruit salad more often than usual. I can't remember when I first started adding dried fruit to fresh fruit salads. It was definitely some years ago, but it just tasted so right that I have been doing it, without question, ever since. 

The measurements here don't really matter. What is important, is that you mix fresh fruit with dried fruit. I've been on a date kick recently, but dried apricots are also excellent, as are dried plums. The cinnamon adds a nice warming quality to the salad, and the orange blossom water some extra sweetness. The fresh mint makes it slightly more exciting that your average fruit salad. All and all, it is certain to brighten up February. You can, of course, make this in the summertime as well. Just use whatever fruit is juiciest. 

The fruit here is what I had on hand, but feel free to also add grapefruit, pomelo, kumquats, persimmon, passion fruit, et cetera, et cetera.   

Winter Fruit Salad

serves 2-3


1 yellow kiwi
1 large apple
3 medjool dates
1 tbsp honey
1 large orange
1 blood orange
1 small pomegranate
pinch of cinnamon
a handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 tbsp orange blossom water

Peel the orange and blood orange and thinly slice them both. Place the slices in a bowl. If your cutting board gathers any juices, add those juices too. Chop the kiwi, the apple, and then pit and chop the medjool dates. Add them to the bowl and then add the pomegranate seeds.

Roughly chop the mint and then add it, the honey, pinch of cinnamon and orange blossom water. Toss well. Let sit for an hour in the fridge for the flavours to mingle and then serve.  


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