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My “I Love You All” Papaya Salad

Papaya salad on an Asian dressing

Blame it on the rain. – We were all set up at the market, us vendors, ready for the customers. But it was unusually grey and wet and unfriendly on that specific morning, and the clients very obviously were not in a rush. So we had time to walk between each others booths, and chat. And of course we talked (mostly) food. My friend from San Salvador told me about a meal a Chinese neighbor had fixed for her – a Thai version of green Papaya salad with chicken. She gave one of the green – not quite ripe – Papayas her neighbor is growing in Matlacha to me. I was fascinated and kept on tinkering about what I would be transforming my green gift into.

Later that day, my son came home from his farm job with a box of longish, yellow, beautifully glowing peppers I had never seen before. A little research made clear that they were Aji Amarillo. From Peru. – One more tempting country and cuisine. One that ignited my plan: I was going to make  salad of Floridian products that have their roots in South- and Central America, and an Asian style dressing. An ode to all of my international food and market friends.

unripe papaya

open papaya, with  seeds

Julienning the Papaya on a mandolin makes for a good crunch. I used Aji Amarillo, Serrano and Red Bell peppers, simply because I had those on hand. One can adjust the varieties to desire, creating a more or less spicy salad. I also added red and yellow Cherry Tomatoes, which turned out to be vibrant eye catchers. For more green speckles (besides the fine strips of Serrano), i put in fresh, chopped Cilantro and some green onions. Basil would work very well also, as would the addition of cooked green beans. By using sesame oil, lime juice, soy sauce and cooking rice wine, I kept the dressing simple yet tasty. This salad can be served as a light appetizer, a refreshing side dish or, complemented by fresh, grilled or dried shrimp, some cooked chicken, seared Tofu and a handful of toasted peanuts or cashews, as a healthy main dish.

Oh, and it works as a cooling meal on a sweltering hot day just as well as for a brightening and soothing bite on a rainy one. So no blaming here.

ingredients for papaya salad

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Fitter Fritter

fritters are served with dip

Maybe it is the season. Or the decade. Or simply me. – I can’t figure out why, but recently I see recipes for and pictures of and posts on fritters everywhere. Fritters are ubiquitous. I feel like those pregnant women who seem to only encounter other pregnant women for months in a row. Fritters follow me, preoccupy me, occupy me. They have become part of my day and night dreams. I am haunted by fritters. And, I have to admit, in a strange way fascinated by them.

In order to keep my sanity and slow down a bit, I tried to analyze my fritter syndrome. And found out, that I had grown up basically fritter free. (Hard to imagine under my current circumstance.) The only fritters I ever had been fed were those hand shaped ones my Mom used to make in the rare occasions her mashed potatoes did not get polished off completely. She would add some eggs and flour in order to stretch the left overs. And serve us, to put it politely, rather heavy and bland potato fritters.

ingredients before mixing, for fritters

Which did not explain but rather contradict my obsession. So I decided to face the beast and look straight into its eyes. I would prepare fritters! Bold and brave, just like that. I knew, within, it only could kill or appease me. (There’s no mediocrity in any sort of mania.)

And I am happy to tell you that it was the latter that happened. My fritters – inspired by the ones of a friend blogger, the Austrian Alex Medwedeff of Chili & Schokolade (www.chiliundschokolade.blogspot.co.at) – turned out light and crisp, crunchy and moist, slightly sweet with the perfect hint of heat. Far away from the heavy discs I remembered, and therefore I named them Fitter Fritters. Although Jitter Fritters might be more accurate.

cooking the fritters

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