Monday, 23 July 2007
To grill or not
I don't know if there are any people studying a correlation between temperatures and ants, but I think there is indeed a correlation. The hotter it is, the wilder the bands of ants are in the house. The temperature is again trying to reach 40°C and there are ants all over the place: impossible to destroy they roam around your things, from the computer, the shower, telephone, linen-cupboard to your bed. Everything you pick up, you have to do an ants-control. While you do your best to move as little as possible because of the heat wave, the ants are clearly out for war.
I give up trying to destroy them. Against high temperatures and running ants everywhere there is no solution. No oil with basil, no white pepper or thinly cut onions, no coffee dregs, no traps where whole armies of ants disappear and never return, unless they are replaced by at least 4 new armies. None of these remedies work. Ants keep on besieging the house, too scared to be grilled outside.
We have rather small ants here, otherwise you could try to lure them right into a grill pan. Grilled ants are a delicacy in Santander (Colombia). In Mexico they eat ant eggs (escamoles) and also in Thailand and India they love to eat ants. Food gurus say that they are very healthy to eat, so in a way it's a shame that your house is invaded by such good food, without you eating it.
Anyhow, I did make the grill pan ready for another experiment. It's karpousi time again. Which means you see plenty of Greeks struggling to get these big monsters home. Watermelon can be very nice, but please, not every day! It seems the Greeks love them: they grow them by the millions. But I have the idea that they don't know what to do with so many. They are so happy to offer you one. Not only when you're just passing by, but also as they pass by your place. I could easily start a karpousi shop here.
And what do you get when you finish a nice meal in a restaurant? Yes! The biggest plate they could find in the restaurant, filled with karpousi. Since I know that watermelon is very good for your liver and that the fruit contains lots of vitamins A, C, B6, B1, potassium and magnesium, I really do try to eat a bit. After a big meal you have to take care a little about your health.
But I have to be fair: I got even smarter with watermelons. Last week we got a karpousi that weighed at lease 10 pounds to eat on the beach. It was offered with napkins and a knife to cut it. The strange thing was that even though this karpousi had been lying in the sun, it tasted at least a thousand times better than in a restaurant. When you have eaten plenty, just to see such a big plate with red fruit arrive makes your stomach turn. However by the sea, when you eat the karpousi with salty hands, the fruit tastes just how it should: thirst-quenching and even though not cold, very refreshing.
The mistake the Greek restaurants make, is to serve them after dinner. This can be very healthy, but it's an offence to your nice full stomach. But whenever you eat it in between, when you are thirsty, a piece of watermelon, especially sitting on the beach, tastes like heaven. I used to crush a watermelon for its juice. What a waste of time! Each mouthful you take out of a karpousi is equal to a gulp of fresh watermelon juice. And especially in a heat wave the energy to squeeze a karpousi is a big waste. You can also inject a watermelon with vodka. But again, in a heat wave you should be very careful with alcohol. It's even too hot to make watermelon ice.
However, I was intrigued by a recipe that I found on the internet. So I used some energy to find out how it tastes: grilled watermelon. I thought how can you grill something that contains 92-95% water? I was amazed that the grill pan wasn't filled with water, grilling the karpousi. It smelt lovely and I must say that the result was super: watermelon steak with a dressing of tomatoes and vinaigrette. There are tens of watermelon steaks you can cut out of one karpousi. So you really don't care about an overdose of watermelons. But it's a very nice variation on all the pieces you are nowadays getting offered so frequently, which you can't refuse.
If this heat wave lasts any longer I may become that crazy that I'll add roasted ants to the recipe below.
Grilled watermelon steaks (side dish, 2 persons)
2 tomatoes, skinned and seeded
3 leaves of basil, cut in thin slices
2 tbls pistaccio nuts, crushed roughly
1 espresso cup of balsamic vinegar
3/4 tbls sugar
2 pieces of watermelon, cut in the shape of a steak.
Finely chop the tomatoes. Add salt and pepper. Cook the vinegar with the sugar until it becomes a little thick. Brush the watermelon pieces with olive oil and put them in a grill pan or on the barbecue. Grill each side for about 5 minutes, until they look like grilled steaks. Put them on two plates. Divide the chopped tomatoes over the pieces, sprinkle the basil over it and sprinkle everything with the vinegar-sugar vinaigrette. This is best served with a goats cheese.
Photo from www.corvandepolder.nl
Copyright © Smitaki 2007