…and you thought that my next post would be about limes (so did I but I’m still trying to figure them out).
I can’t be sure without first asking my parents, but I am almost positive that my love of fruit juice started the day I was born. My sister and I were definitely the kids on the street with the lemonade stand (Koolaid too I will admit), I would beg my mom for jugo de manzana (apple juice-> yes I spoke Spanish… too bad I forgot everything until college-> it would be really helpful these days), I had a phase with fresh-squeezed orange juice (until I drank so much my tongue hurt), and though I will drink tea and the occasional soda, I would give them up in a heartbeat to save my precious fruit juices. So imagine my surprise when I get to Ecuador and find a variety of juices that I hadn’t even considered before. During almuerzo (lunch) restaurants here have pre-fixed menus (which is a bummer since it’s normally the meal I eat out) but each menu includes a daily juice (which is not a bummer at all). I’ve tried grapefruit, naranjilla (different than naranja which is orange juice), cherimoya, apple, orange (gotta have the normal ones), peach, raspberry, guava, oat (it was actually good), papaya, and my personal favorite cantaloupe.
Here’s the thing about cantaloupe… I love it. It’s refreshing and yummy and if you have a lot of it it doesn’t burn your tongue. When I was little, I’d eat around it and honeydew and head straight for the watermelon in melon dishes. These days, I still pick around the honeydew (solely because I don’t think it has much flavor), but I dive right for the cantaloupe. And here in Ecuador, it’s warm enough year round for local cantaloupe. But despite my love of cantaloupe, I’ve never considered having it in juice before. I’m sure it happens in the U.S. as well, but it’s just nothing I’d ever really thought about. And once I’d had it once, I was addicted. I had to get my hands on jugo de melón (cantaloupe juice).
I headed to the grocery store and beelined for the juice aisle but no matter where I looked in the shelves, I could only find orange, apple, and peach juice. It didn’t make sense! I’d had jugo de melón in friends’ houses, restaurants, it was everywhere! So of course I had to ask where to find it. I’m pretty sure the grocery worker was close to peeing his pants. He was trying to keep a straight face but kept breaking into a huge grin and finally called a coworker over to ask whether they carried jugo de melón. I’m pretty sure he just wanted to share the joke. They informed me that they did not carry cantaloupe juice and I was embarrassed for whatever joke I was not getting so I quickly headed out.
When I met some Americans working for the Peace Corps the next day, I asked them about this encounter. They all started laughing before informing me that here, they make all of the juices that they drink. I am still a little shocked that I had not thought of this possibility but I’m from America. The land of the waste and prepackaged goods. When I want cranberry juice, I don’t squeeze cranberries… I head to the store.
Not to give in easily, I decided to learn how to make cantaloupe juice (since I assumed you couldn’t just squeeze the juice out of it). It turns out the process is quite simple:
Jugo de Melón
- 1/4 Cantaloupe, cubed
- 5 Ice Cubes
- A dash of water
- Sugar, to taste (they like to add a lot here but I kept it minimal so the flavors really popped).
- In lieu of sugar, ice, and water, heat 1/4 cup water with 1/4 cup sugar until the sugar melts. While still over low heat, add fresh mint and muddle for a minute. Let reach room temperature and then mix with other ingredients and 1 ice cube. May need extra cantaloupe.