Friday, May 6, 2011

SALPICON, Colombia's Perfect Summer Drink

I've held off six months on this, because publishing a warm-weather drink in September was kind of silly. Now it's heating up and this delicious, refreshing and healthy national beverage will make your summer entertaining even more fun. All over Colombia (I first tasted this in the municipal market halls in Bucaramanga, an hour's flight from Bogota), marvelously different fresh fruits flavor everything from stews and salads to ice cream and donuts (more on that another time). I've taken this a notch back to what's usually available in an American kitchen. Don't gussy this up with fresh mint, or a rim of tinted sugar, or a pineapple spear, okay? It's a great drink and deserves to stand on its own.

3 C fresh watermelon juice
1 C 7-UP or your favorite pale soda, diet's okay
1 C chopped watermelon
1/2 C each chopped mango, melon, peach and/or other in-season fruit*
Simple syrup**
Juice of one lime
1 banana, chopped, moistened with lime juice

Up to three hours ahead, mix watermelon juice and chopped fruits except banana. At serving time, add soda, lime juice, and chopped banana. Adjust sweetness with simple syrup. Serve in tall glasses over ice, or from a pitcher at table. Serves 4 to 6, depending on thirst, doubles or triples easily, just watch the syrup.
* the mango's a must; for me, cherries and blueberries don't fit (too American). If you have access to Latin fruits, by all means use them. Above all, no kiwi!
** 1/2 C each white sugar and water, boiled until clear; keeps well in the fridge. Or use watermelon juice, and pass a small pitcher of it at serving time. Colombians
NOTE: of course, you could add dark rum, even vodka...but the drink is a standout au naturel, and nicely compliments Latin-influenced cuisine, roast corn on the cob, grilled pork chops, even steak
NOTE: I've never tried a powdered drink mix but it might work if you're desperate
COMING UP: A Reely Excellent Sangria...Memories of Colombian Donuts...Xian Noodles...more

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