Monday, February 16, 2009

Sunday Brunch - A Celebration

It is no great revelation that we as people have a long history of food as the main attraction at our celebrations. Most of our major holidays center on the idea of feasting, Thanksgiving is of course the most obvious example. Even those holidays that are not completely food-centric still have a canon of traditional foods associated with them - Easter Ham, Christmas Goose, July Fourth BBQ, and the favorite of many The Birthday Cake. We commemorate major occasions and accomplishments with food and beverage - A champagne toast, a graduation buffet, and a post funeral potluck are just a few examples.

These food traditions help to define us culturally, they ground us geographically, and unite us with a common bond. I'm no social anthropologist, in fact I'm mostly just a girl with her own sordid history with food, but it seems to me that this is at least partly because food, quite simply, makes us feel good. It gives us comfort, nurtures us, and when it's at its best it can bring us oh-so-much joy.

It was in the spirit of traditional celebratory feasting that I planned a recent brunch. I run, and most of my friends run, and so it was no coincidence that several of us were all running the same local Half Marathon. And since running hard for 13.1 miles is both an accomplishment worthy of commemoration, and enough to make a person darn hungry, I thought what better way to celebrate, and to feed our well-earned appetites than a post-race Sunday Brunch.

Several people contributed to the spread - we had two different quiches, we had biscuits, we had muffins, and we had strata (which incidentally those of us originally from the Midwest were familiar with, while the native Texans had never heard of). We also had mimosa. Because nothing says celebration like champagne, but also because 9:00 AM is a little too early to hit the bottle straight, and everything's better with orange juice.

My contribution to the meal was fruit - The Sunday Fruit Salad. I dreamed up the recipe while tossing and turning sleeplessly from pre-race jitters the night before the race.

(See previous post for recipe)

I was victorious. My friends liked it. It's a pretty simple recipe really, but the basil and honey add an unexpected twist. Together they are the little something different that will prompt your guests to ask, "What did you do to the fruit?" The mostly tart fruits make this salad bright, and refreshing, perfect for after a long run, or when the weather turns warm and sticky. I would recommend that you cut your fruits into rather small bits, about the size of the blueberries. Doing so will make the salad a touch delicate and slightly elegant.

There are not a lot of choices for Texas local fruits in January. In fact, I can only think of citrus when pressed. So while everything in my version of The Sunday Fruit Salad was organic, only the honey and basil were locally produced. Depending on what time of year you make this dish, and where you live, you may or may not be able to go local. Either way, I would advocate for the fruits I've included - they play off each other perfectly both in appearance and flavor.


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