Tiny Fruit Salad
I loathe fruit salad.
Really. My experience with it has been in two forms:
- Big, bland chunks of apple, orange, banana, grapes, and occasionally a Random Exciting Fruit of Some Kind at salad bars. Leftovers, blending slowly together so that the pale off-white apple has pale off-white banana bits stuck all over it. Alternatively, there's sometimes the Bland Melon Version (pallid honeydew, canteloupe, watermelon... and grapes);
- Fruit cocktail, which is almost the same but jazzed up with tons of sugar which makes me crave it even when I don't want to put odd leftover grapes and lurid cherries in my mouth. My mother used to eat this with cottage cheese, which puzzles me as much now as it did when I was six.
However, when I was little I watched Sesame Street. And one of their segments featured, I think, other small children learning how to share and making fruit salad - all silent, with musical background, in that strange 70s Children's Television Workshop way. They had so many closeups of big fat blueberries and juicy tasty fruit going in there... it's haunted me ever since. It has become the spectre pushing me to taste fruit salad after fruit salad, never finding what I need.
Now, there is Tiny Fruit Salad. It is made with tiny fruit. Champagne grapes the size of the bubbles in the drink they make, small fat donut peaches, miniature wild strawberries, fat sweet blueberries and raspberries and blackberries and gemlike red currants.
If it needs to be sliced up, it doesn't go in the salad. This makes it faster to prepare, and sweeter, tastier. As generic-man excellently explains in donut peach, smaller fruit is more flavorful because all the juicy flavor is packed in even more tightly.
Those peaches do need to be sliced up: see, I'm already breaking the rules. The rule, though, for tiny fruit salad, is that there can be one Thing To Slice, one bigger kind of fruit, in any given bowl of the fruit salad, to enhance the texture.
The same proves to be true for the grapes and fraises du bois: they are as sweet as they are small. As for many other berries, they can be a dangerous element: a few sour berries (like many raspberries, like white currants) adds tang, but too many and you just get sour salad, fit only to be sugared up and eaten with cream... not that that's a bad thing. But it isn't fruit salad. Buy organic berries, if you can, if for no other reason than because blackberries, normally-sized strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries in particular (in that wild and crazy berry community) tend to be sour or even bitter when commercially grown. Visit How to get organic produce at conventional produce prices and enjoy yourself for a while.
This is all you need to make it: an idea of what it should be like, some suggestions as to ingredients. But I know you wacky noders. You're going to want lists. Well, you may have two more, and then off with you.
What to Do
This is one combination that I enjoyed, when this fruit salad was first born.
- One box of (organic, at the time) champagne grapes (I don't know why they came in boxes. I would estimate, should you find them loose, that a box amounts to about two handfuls of grape bunches);
- One box of red currants (They came in a little plastic tin of sorts, perhaps four ounces' worth?);
- One box of (organic) blackberries ("Nature made this perfect food! We'd better surround it with plastic, quick!");
- Four donut peaches, sliced into happy chunks for your tongue;
- One big box of organic blueberries (They were the happiest blueberries on earth, and probably there were six ounces or so of them left after I finished my mid-salad-making snack.)
The blackberries and blueberries could just get dumped in a big big bowl. I don't wash my fruit. I am lazy that way. I also do not tell this to people who are visiting my house and eating my food. Now you know all my secrets. The peaches were sliced in half, twisted to open 'em up (like you do to an avocado, if you spend too much time watching cooking shows), de-pitted, and cut up quickly.
It's the grapes and currants that take time; they have to be pulled gently from their stems with quick light fingertips to avoid bursting them... but the burst ones found a welcoming home in my mouth, so that's all right.
What Not to Do
One box regular, pesticidey raspberries
One box white currants
One box aging fraises du bois, or wild strawberries
One tub huckleberries
Woo! That's sour!!
It does, however - when mixed with a heap of the sweetener of your choice and some cream - make a nice topping for french toast. Tasty fruit is always salvageable somehow.
When made properly, or at all, Tiny Fruit Salad should be a little like eating a giant bowl full of jewels. There should, ideally, be some mix of fruit (and berries) you love and berries (and fruit) you've never tried before. It should be full of shining sweet things that are tiny and flavorful and you can't quite believe it's all for you.