Early on in our relationship, my husband would ask questions regarding the Mexican foods I grew up eating. I would enthusiastically tell him both about those I ate as a child in Mexico and the ones my family continued to eat in our new adopted American home. Often times I would recount the special memories that those foods aroused in me. Unbeknown to me, apparently, I would often add the following phrase, “Do you know what makes (this) food taste even better? If you drizzle some fresh lime juice and sprinkle some ground chile pepper over it.”
One day my husband said to me, “I’m beginning to think that Mexicans like to put lime and chile pepper on everything.” I immediately, and with a defensive tone, told him he was wrong and that Mexican food was much more than that. We both laughed at what I had said and my husband then pointed out that I always mentioned adding lime and chile to so many of the foods I told him about. Of course I blushed and nodded my head in agreement. I do love to put chile and lime juice on so many foods — and not just Mexican ones, international ones too.
It is true that the culinary flavours of Mexico often involve chile and lime, these two fruits are very important not only in our foods but also in our history. And while not everything (nor everyone) includes them together, they are a wonderful pairing that I adore. For me (and Mexican cuisine in general) chile isn’t always added for heat, it is about the distinct flavours that each individual chili pepper can add to whatever it is that you are cooking or eating. This, the idea that all Mexican food is spicy, is a common misconception. But we’ll delve into that topic another time. Let’s talk about this cooling summer treat instead.
What I am about to admit is not going to be something many of you will like. I, Nancy Lopez-McHugh, am not a big fan of ice cream. … Are you there? I know it’s such a horrible thing and one I’m not too proud of. I don’t know exactly why it is, and how it suddenly happened, that I turned my back on the icy treat loved all over the world. Maybe it’s just too sweet for me, maybe there’s a cross connection in my brain. I don’t know. My poor husband loves ice cream and it is only very rarely that I’ll agree to go out for ice cream or frozen-yogurt. Instead I prefer to eat frozen ice desserts that are lighter, not dairy based, and made with fresh fruits, like this granita.
I never turn down a granita. (Don’t know what granita is? Read this.) What I love most about it is that it can be made with whatever fruit happens to be in season. Right now strawberries are at their peak so I made a small batch of strawberry granita for us. Remember my love of lime juice and chile powder on (almost) everything? Well, both are included in this very special summer treat. Keeping in mind that not everyone loves a spicy touch with their fruit, instead of adding the chili to the granita mix I added it as a topping. This recipe is perfect for customising to your own personal taste and heat tolerance. The topping options aren’t too spicy, but do add a great complimentary flavour to the sweet strawberries. In Mexico many people love adding a touch of chile to fresh fruit, believe it or not it’s really refreshing on a hot summer day.
You can get the recipe for my Strawberry Granita With Two Spicy Topping Options over on my About.com column. Enjoy!