A do or don't: Meat and fruitSome people love this combination while others abhor it.
In several parts of the world, pairing meat with fruit is quite common.
For example, many Polynesian recipes, especially those that contain pork, feature indigenous fruits such as papaya, pineapple, banana and coconut. In Morocco, lamb dishes often are complemented with dates or prunes and chicken with figs or apricots. And Turkish chefs add pomegranates and raisins to meat. In Israel, beef briskets and tsimmes (a meat and/or vegetable stew) often are cooked with dried fruits.
But in the U.S., that concept is considered “foreign” by a lot of people. That’s exactly the word one of my co-workers, Alyssa Shirek, used when I asked for her opinion. In fact, several others at work said meat and fruit just don’t belong together in the same dish, although I’m sure many of them have accepted fruit as part of a glaze on meat or as part of a sauce. (Of course, some view the tomato as a vegetable and not a fruit.)
A couple of things about this unlikely combo make it appealing to me. Fruit’s natural sugars offer a mellow counterpoint to dominant flavors of certain meats and fish. And it also can give a little life to otherwise bland flesh.
Actually, combining meat and fruit isn’t totally alien to this part of the world. Pemmican, a staple of the Plains Indians, traditionally was prepared from the lean meat of large game, which was cut in thin slices and dried until it was hard and brittle, then pounded into very small pieces, almost powderlike in consistency. The pounded meat was mixed with melted fat and in some cases, dried fruits such as Saskatoon berries, cranberries, blueberries or chokecherries were pounded into powder and then added to the mixture. The meat then was stored in rawhide pouches.
I’ve never thought twice about trying a recipe that contains both meat and fruit. One that comes to mind that most people might be familiar with is Hawaiian pizza, which features Canadian bacon and pineapple. (Most recently, I’ve had a delicious version of it at Mama Maria’s in the East Grand Forks mall.)
I think that a lot of people’s aversion to the meat-fruit combination — and other foods from different cultures — is misapprehension. Many times, people will actually enjoy food that may have not sounded appealing at first.
Another co-worker told of when he was visiting a friend in Africa who was in Peace Corps. Chuck Haga said at first he was a little “doubtful” about the combination of goat meat and peanut sauce, but after trying found it to be delicious.
One dish that I’m looking forward to having again after an absence of many years is pork spare ribs with an apple, prune and bread dressing. (See recipe at www.grandforksherald.com/event/tag/group/Features/tag/ food/.)
Mom used to make this when I was growing up. It was a recipe she got from my grandmother, who always made it for my Aunt Harriet on her birthday. Mom thought that the recipe was German in origin and used leftover coffeecake instead of bread seasoned with cinnamon sugar. For those who like pairing pork chops with applesauce, this is a must.
But you won’t know until you try it.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.