Man… late summer and I can barely keep up with all of this phenomenal produce and fruit pouring in! There are some special recipes that I make only once a year when the food is in season. It makes it special, and something to look forward to. This peach macedonia is one of those recipes. I have been SO excited waiting for the peaches to arrive, just to make this recipe.
About 6 years ago, I was in Italy for 3 months. For a few weeks during that time, I was in my dad’s village of Ovindoli (nostalgic sigh). I adopted my cousin’s grandmother, Nonna Erminia- a feisty, hardworking, generous hearted woman whom I adored. And who I still miss. She let me watch as she made beautiful lemon ricotta ravioli early in the morning for their family restaurant. I would watch those sturdy hands slap the pasta against the cold black marble countertop, early morning sun streaming between the mountains as the back door stayed open to let in the fresh crisp breeze before the day got hot. I love her- and I love that crazy mindboggling village where anything you say or do gets remembered and recounted for decades. So, keep your skeletons to a minimum. They see all, and know all … :)
Right, on to the macedonia. Macedonia means fruit salad. To me, Fruit salad was always just a big bowl of whatever is in season chopped and thrown together. This was the first time I realized that painstakingly selected flavours to combine will just blow your mind, and that not any random fruit should go with each other. There must be style to it.
In Italy, everything is small, but painstakingly, achingly beautiful. The people- small, beautiful. Their clothing- small wardrobes but the best that you can buy. The houses, small, but decorated for nobility. And the food. Well, the food. The flavour selection is pared down (small), but showcases specific notes of one or two gorgeous seasonal, local items together. Its so unlike North America. Here, big, cheap, and lots, defines everything we do. Big people. Cheap and huge and disposable clothes. Big, cheap and disposable furniture. Cars. And, unfortunately, food.
I remember the first time I tried to cook for my wary relatives in Italy and they eyed my concoction with very polite um…. ‘guidance’. “Alea, too many flavours. Too complicated. Too much stuff. Keep it simple and only one or two flavours. The rest, throw it out.” They were right. And this fruit salad reminds me, every time.
Now, let me tell you about this macedonia. The peaches are bright notes. The banana gives a smooth creamy evenness- and the lemon juice, surprisingly, actually evens the acid punches of the peaches ( I can’t figure this out, given the acidity of the lemon…) while the liquors (which are optional, but awesome) just pull everything together. In fact, you can’t even tell they are there. Even if you hate licorice and therefore Sambuca, just, do it this once. You don’t taste it at all. All you taste is a inexplicable mellow sweetness that haunts your palate after the brightness of the peaches tickles your throat.
Honestly. Just do it.
Macedonia di Nonna Erminia
- 4 peaches
- 2 nectarines
- 3 bananas
- 1 lemon
- 1 shot clear (white) sambuca
- 1 shot clear (white) vermouth
- Peel the peaches with a sharp knife. Cut them lengthwise, keeping them still on the pit, and the crosswise, kinda like the grid you would see on a globe. Its the easiest way to cut them into small bite sized pieces.
- Don’t peel the nectarines- but cut them the same way.
- Cut the bananas cross wise then lengthwise (or just any way you can get them in small pieces)
- Juice the lemon, and pour the shots of both liquors.
- Mix it all in a bowl.
- NOW TAKE A BIG BIG BIG SCOOP. You’ll never be so happy, I swear. :)