Grapefruit Shake-Up!

Did I ever tell you I grew up in the carnival?  Yes, it’s true, I am a third generation carnie.  But a few things set me apart like an education and having all of my teeth.  My grandfather started AJ Sunny Amusements in 1956 and the business was later taken over by my father and aunt.  I began working the midway at the age of nine doing small things like sorting money or making lemonade. However most of my time was spent taking advantage of living the life every child dreams of which consisted of eating French fries and cotton candy for lunch and cutting in line to pick whatever seat I wanted on one of our psychedelically painted rides.

Working the midway. So according to this picture I guess I started working when I was about 18 months.

We’ve all had the ubiquitous frothy lemonade shake-up in the large, waxed paper cup that we must hold two-handed for fear the bottom may drop out (tragic!).  We’ve watched a carnie (maybe even me) shake this refreshing summer beverage with enthusiastic vigor.

My palate has diversified since my steady diet of sno cones and funnel cakes and living in Fiji has helped that considerably.  With my carnival days behind me and being a Peace Corps volunteer my current chosen profession, I’m going to be honest….. it can be really challenging.  The harassment, unreliable public transportation, harassment on the unreliable transportation….. sometimes when I get home on a sweaty Friday afternoon a nice cool drink (with vodka) is critical to maintaining sanity while enduring third world living.  However, on this occasion I will have to gracefully decline for 2 reasons: 1. I am on a volunteer budget and 2. I’m not even sure if the local vodka here is meant for human consumption.

I dare your mouth not to water.

It is citrus season in Fiji now.  There are at least eight types of citrus I can think of but I’m sure there are more I have yet to discover.  Small, sweet n sour kumquats, meyer-like lemons, traditional limes, candy sweet mandarins and the list goes on and on.  A few are eaten out of hand but most commonly they are used to make juice.

I was missing the tangy taste of a grapefruit and lucky for me I came across the Fiji version of just that.  They are MASSIVE and can weigh 3-4 lbs.  I picked a hefty one, squeezed the bloody hell out of it & shook it like a Polaroid picture.  This drink is a refreshing deviant from the norm and is so vibrant in its flavor that it could pull you out of a cotton candy coma.

Is it a grapefruit? Is it a pomelo? I’m not really sure. But what I do know is that its delicious.

Getting excited about citrus!

Lets get real, this beverage would be award winning with a heavy splash of vodka (or gin).  Pair this drink with some caramel apples and Italian sausages and you’ve got a carnie party to attend.

Grapefruit Shakeup

1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
4 tbsp Sugar
4 tbsp boiling water
Ice

Makes 2

Make a simple syrup by adding boiling water and sugar together stirring to dissolve sugar completely.

Juice grapefruit and strain to remove any excess seeds and pulp.  Making one at a time, in a pint glass add half the grapefruit juice to half of the syrup, fill glass with ice and pour 8 oz. of water over top.  Cover the pint glass with either a plastic cup or traditional lemonade paper cup that fits snuggly over the lip.  Shake vigorously for 1 minute until it well combined and frothy.  Serve in either pint glass or paper cup.  Garnish with a grapefruit wedge if desired.

Fiji Comfort Food At Its Finest

At the time of writing this it had been raining for two weeks straight.  I don’t mean a drizzle here and there and some moody gray skies.  I’m talking sheet rain with fire hydrant force behind it and cyclonic winds followed by devastating flooding and power outages. This kind of weather, when I’m literally stuck indoors for days at a time, makes me want to eat, but not just anything, I want to eat carbs and sweets and lots of them.  I want comfort food, something warm and creamy.

I tried this traditional Fijian dessert at a cultural event when first arriving to the islands.  Vakasoso in Fijian means “something added”.  In other words, you take something in its raw state & add something to it, in this case coconut milk, making it infinitely more awesome.

Vakasoso is warm and rich, so call your spot on the couch in advance because this dessert will directly be followed by a nap.  Vudi, pronounced voon-dee, is in the banana family.  It’s not a banana, it’s not a plantain, but more like a combination of the two.  It has the fragrant aroma and flavor of a banana but has a higher starch content similar to a plantain.  If it just so happens that you are not living in the South Pacific then you could substitute bananas for this recipe.  However, if the bananas are too ripe they will just turn to mush, so make sure they are ripe but still a bit firm.

The Humble Ingredients. The tool on the left is an ancient war tool used to.....no, not really...it's only a coconut scraper.

The ripe vudi may be a bit high in sugar, but its natural sugar.  Never the less, skip the extra sugar if you are conscious of your intake.  And DON’T worry for one second about your waistline….coconut milk is GOOD for you.  The naturally occurring fats in coconut oil PREVENT heart disease and the multi-chain triglycerides (MCT’s) are a long chain fatty acid and are one of the healthiest fats in existence.  So don’t waste one drop of that glorious milky sauce! Lick the bowl…….I did ; )

The Divine Decadence.

VakaSoso

2 large ripe vundi, sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch thick rounds

1 cup coconut milk

3 tbsp shredded coconut

1 tbsp sugar (optional & most likely unnecessary)

Simmer covered over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Contest! Name That Exotic Fiji Food!

Read the info below and check out the pictures of one of my favorite fruits in Fiji!  The first person to guess correctly gets a round trip flight to….oh, sorry not quite…but what you WILL get is a personalized post card from me from Fiji!

One rule though, if you are from Fiji or have lived in Fiji please DON’T GUESS!  Give our over-seas friends a chance.

A bowl of the tasty fruit......hmmm, what am I?

Here are your clues:

1.      Around the tropical world, these fruits are mostly eaten out-of-hand and can also be a dark purple in color.  They are a light yellow/green color when un-ripened and have a large pit in the center about the size of a nutmeg.

2.      The fruit is made into jam or jelly with lemon juice added, or more frequently preserved in combination with other fruits of more pronounced flavor. In Jamaica, the fruits are candied by stewing them in a sugar syrup with cinnamon.  In Fiji, people only eat them out of hand or make pickles out of the un-ripened fruit.   In Fiji they are not cultivated and grow in the wild.

3.      The season in Fiji just ended and runs from early December to mid January.

4.      Mild in flavor and sweetness with a silky smooth texture I fell in love at first bite.  This is one of the foods I will miss the most when I leave Fiji!

For size comparison....this fruit would not be eaten with eggs.