Monday, August 10, 2009

Licuado

One of the finest, but most expensive, drinks you can buy in a Guatemalan bar or restautant is a licuado, and it's non alcoholic. In the US we'd call it a smoothie, maybe even a Slurpee. PhotobucketIt's a blender half full of fruit, here con agua o con leche, or yogurt and honey if I'm at home, enough liquid to get the fruit chopped up, then ice. I even had a delicious one made of avocado, with sugar, the other day.

Licuados bear only a superficial resemblance to the artificially flavored and colored concoctions at the convenience store.

Pity about the cost, ($2+, when you can buy a beer for half that) because the mellowing agents associated with a licuado are second to none.

First of all, you have to wait. In the shade, sitting down. Breezy? +++. So you settle in, begin to switch gears from the rigors of town. All the stuff you were schlepping waits passively on the floor.

Second, the presentation: not just a bottle wearing a bow-tied napkin, but a creamy pastel mound in a bounteous stemmed goblet, (38D?), maybe even with a fruit garnish, or perhaps part of your straw wrapper will be curled. Presentation helps.

Third, cooling effect of cold blender drink, soothing little ice crystals streaming down your gullet; you could almost visualize the graphics for the TV commercial. It's guaranteed to drop your core temperature significantly.

But wait! There's more !You're packing your belly full - full of cool, and full of nutrition. "We just ate half a watermelon" says Doug, or half a pineapple, or 3 mangoes, or 3 cups of papaya.

Now I own a blender (licuadora) and my new favorite appliance, the limon squeezer (exprimadora, <$2). Every day, mid morning, and mid afternoon, something fruity and frothy is being whipped up not more than 2 feet from my 110V electric outlet.
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I bought 50 limon the other day for $1.20. I meant to buy ten limes, not ten Q worth, (8 Quetzales equalling $1 USD) but the woman had her basket empty and my backpack full before I thought of a way to say "that's not what I meant!" So I made limonade concentrate in boiling water, added sugar, then squeezed the dregs with my new exprimador. My scurvy resistance is way up, but the enamel on my teeth, maybe not. Anyhow, it was all gone in about three days. It's such a treat to be profligate!

Pineapples are less than a dollar - these are the DelMonte/Dole rejects, sometimes a little small, or lopsided. I wonder what the quality sorting standards are in pina-ville. "The ideal candidate (pineapple) will have symmetrical eyes no deeper than 25mm, a straight top...." Sometimes you'll see roadside stands that look like they're actually made using pineapples as columns and walls.
We get banana rejects too. My favorites are the "Chiquita minis" priced by the dozen and about as filling as 2 Oreos and a glass of milk. They're never green, always quite yellow, so it really is a race to the finish. Sometimes I feel like a monkey, flinging the stems over my shoulder as I reach for the next one.

We keep our 'organics', the vegetable food scraps, in a 2 lb coffee 'plastic' which, since we're eating so much fruit and veg, needs daily dumping. Lacking a pig or a compost heap, we sometimes sneak out to mid-river to dump the scraps, since we don't want the positively buoyant among the discards circling the boat all day. I don't feel good about this. Yet the marina workers say the fish like to eat fruit, and they 'chum' with custard apple, I think it is, and sometimes tortillas, when they fish during lunch hour and after work.

The marina doesn't want organics in the trash, some of which is hauled to an undisclosed location by lancha; or sometimes is burned in the back lot. Don't forget, everything that comes here comes by boat, and has to leave the same way.

The only unfortunate consequence of our fruititarianism is a near-plague of fruit flies. Wikipedia tell me that fruit flies have a life-cycle of ten days. We've had them in mid-ocean, weeks out of port, and while they're not actively offensive, biting, stinky, etc, they just don't look nice in the galley. I've started keeping fruit in the fridge, the oven, even in the pressure cooker, to foil them. Heaven help us all if the fruit flies ever mate with the ants - two more 'on-the-job-all-the-time' species it would be hard to imagine.

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