jewel in the crown fruit salad

Jewel in the crown

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We were crammed into a route that snaked through the narrow claustrophobic streets near the old Born market, a once notorious barrio of south central Barcelona. It was Halloween and freezing cold and I was breathing flames and playing djembe with a mixed street circus group of Basque and Catalan crazies seriously set on intimidating the innocent pedestrians with shrieks, booming drums, clanging bells and heavy duty playback all with fireworks and flames and hardly room to turn round and not burn off someone’s eyelashes. It getting too packed with people, I’m thinking, and each time I spew a ball of fire to the heavens, I’m blowing more directly up each time directly above my own face for fear of barbequing the back of somebody’s head.

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The jewels in the crown of this salad, of course, are those succulent little red sweet mini Roma tomatoes. At the height of the summer season they just burst with sweet juice right in the mouth and more and more you’ll find them out of season too as plenty are farmed under glass all year long. Nice!

Salad ingredients:

  • 1 lovely fresh cucumber
  • About quarter of a watermelon
  • A big handful of blackberries
  • Another each of cherries, blueberries, grapes and raspberries
  • A good handful of mini Roma tomatoes or cherry tomatoes

For the dressing:

  • The juice of half an orange
  • About 6 or 7 soupspoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small spoonfuls of your favourite honey

Jewel in the crown

The Orange, honey and olive oil dressing soothes the mouth and throat and ties all the fruity flavours together.

Jewel in the crown

Just add the juice of half an orange to a good lug of extra virgin olive oil, always pick a fruity one, then add two small spoons of your favourite honey and give it a good stir. You’ll have enough for the next time and it stores just fine.

Jewel in the crown

I use whatever berry or vine fruits are in season at the time so the recipe is more of an idea than a fixed formula. Make it your way. This photo is of my favourite combination with thin sliced cucumber for the base and triangles of watermelon for that bright red crown and then heap the fruit in the middle, dressing poured all over and then its time to munch. The whole thing looks like a carnival costume. Just looking at it makes you feel good too. Enjoy.

Jewel in the crown

So then…

I’ve got burning droplets of paraffin raining back down and the bloom of heat puts a red glow into the faces of everyone too close for comfort. Damn this is dangerous but this is Barcelona and that’s how they roll in this town. Burns and concussion are simply regarded as occupational hazards. Anyway, I could not anticipate what happened next. I like to keep a few cherry tomatoes in my pockets when I’m breathing flames. They are the best handy snack and I had some left over from my big fruit salad from dinner. Sometimes I just chew one to refresh the mouth from too much paraffin and spit them out again. So I pop one into my mouth and chew and spit and a blood chilling scream goes up from the women next to me. I thought I’d set her on fire but, oh no…

Maybe it was my smudgy black eye makeup running down my face or the ghoulish light cast by the flames or the sticky tomato flesh hanging from my teeth but that lady howled – “AAaiiiiiagghhh!”

Her ear shattering shrieks carry into the crowd infecting them with fear and in 10 seconds everyone is backing away from the fire breather with the red sticky tomato stuff dribbling off his face – me. Yep, it was pure Halloween and I did look like a flesh eating zombie on the rampage with red tomato juice dripping from my jaws but the unexpected crowd clearing effect did actually give me some room to work. Handy trick amigos, they’ll think you’re badder than Ozzy Ozbourne with that party piece.

Breathing fire is not something to try at home so don’t try it; not without years of serious circus training first. That’s paraffin in the spray, not gasoline, which would explode or white spirit, which would also explode. Anyway, it’s tough on the body so I need the maximum hit of vitamins and nutrients before blowing any flames and this salad has them all.


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