So by now you’ve mail ordered your Maras and Urfa peppers, right? Which means its time to think about dessert, and I have two words for you: canned fruit.
Not just any canned fruit, though. No, the holidays call for something special. Something like…
Canned Alphonso mango pulp ($3-$4 at International Foods & Spices, 4203 Walnut St.)
Are Alphonso mangoes really the best variety in the world? I don’t know, but this Indian variety has passionate partisans. You probably won’t find fresh ones over here. (A friend of mine once worked out a business plan to import them, but discarded it when he realized no one was going to pay $6 for a mango, no matter how good it was.) No worries, though. Three bucks or so will get you a 30 ounce can of really, really good mango pulp.
But what am I going to do with all this mango pulp, you ask? Make ice cream. Or sorbet. This has to be the easiest dessert around—provided you have an ice cream maker, anyway. (If not, try popsicles.) Mix the pulp with a little cream. Presto. Or just dump it into your ice cream maker naked. That’s good too. Want to change it up? Grate a little nutmeg into the slurry. Or you can do it the way my wife’s South Indian friend does, cutting it with Cool Whip. Sounds sacrilegious, right? Maybe so, but Alphonso mango pulp is so good that even harebrained ideas work.
Bonus gift: Frozen naan from the freezer case. Five pieces run $2 or $2.50. All it needs is one minute in your oven, making it way convenient when you don’t want to bother with making your own flatbread. It’s a lot better than you’d suspect, too.
The Real Holiday Spirit: Enclose International Foods & Spices’ hours and address in your gift package. It’s a wonderful store run by friendly people, and your friend should know about it if she doesn’t already.
Trey Popp’s Holiday Gift Guide, Part 1 [Foobooz]