The natural sweet taste of summer

CHRIS FORTUNE
Last updated 10:34 03/01/2013
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It was the fruit that did it . . .

I won't put my sunscreen on! I won't wear my shoes! I won't wear a hat!

Ah, the wonderful sounds of Christmas holidays. It's a good job that they are coming from the caravan across the lane as the Fortune family relax under the shade awning at our tent camp.

Our own two youngsters smirk and comment "naughty child" and "they should listen to their mums and dads". Mr and Mrs Fortune smile and nod, smile and nod.

Christmas Day was a blur of food, cooling beverages, sunscreen and swimming, visiting family, great-grandmothers, great-aunties, cousins and cuzzies, friends and foes.

The lunch table was laden with a Kiwi Christmas feast of food, food and more food. Pudding was creamy, wobbly, spongy and crumbly, fattening and filling, followed by the taste of more sunscreen (why don't they make a vanilla or passionfruit one?), followed by swimming in both the incoming tide and the refreshing pool.

Platters of Marlborough cherries, apricots, plums, nectarines and blueberries were the final course of the day. Their natural sweetness and juiciness makes all others before them taste bland and unappetising.

It is fruit that defines the real taste of Christmas at the Fortune table. Sure, the kids next to us had Cheezels and potato chips, the never-ending tongues of chewing gum, and sugary artificial flavours and essences that look and smell like the latest cartoon characters from the soon-to-be-extinct TV show.

Sure, our kids have never missed out, but if there is one memory they will take with them on the remainder of their eating lives, it will be the taste of juicy, sun-ripened fruit, which no amount of sugar can replicate.

T-shirt fronts dripping with apricot juice, stained fingers from too many cherries, and crimson-stained lips from tangy, sweet, tart plums and blueberries are the true essence of summer.

While the battle rages over what is good for our children to eat, the war will be won by what grows in the orchards around us, and what is available to us only at certain times of the year.

While it may not have fancy packaging or under-read nutritional panels, it is the fruit of our childhood that will help to define our summertime memories long after the last chip packet has been thrown in the rubbish.

SUMMER PUDDING

This is the perfect way to use up the leftovers of any berries or fruits. You can use anything you can find at this time of the season, including any frozen fruits that have been defrosted.

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Half a loaf of slightly stale good quality white bread, crusts removed

200g red currants

200g plums

100g blueberries

100g raspberries

200g strawberries

3-4 Tbsp sugar

Honey to taste Line a pudding basin or bowl with the bread, cutting it so that it fits well with no gaps. Also cut out a lid.

Bring the sugar and the same amount of water to the boil. Add the fruit and bring to a simmer. Taste, and adjust with a little honey if needed. Reserve some of the juice.

Gently tip the fruit into the bread bowl, cover with the bread lid and then press down with a weight overnight in the fridge. Serve with natural yoghurt and the reserved berry juices.

- The Marlborough Express

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