Sweet heat

Juicy fruits like watermelon and mango are ideal companions when a heat wave in the city sets in. Adding some spicy heat, like drinking hot tea in the desert, has a nice congruence, keeping the heat up in the early evening as the sun goes down.

Friday was one of those blazing hot summer days in London (I’m certainly not complaining). After a busy day at work I stopped by Ali Baba Juice for something refreshing. They had some new combinations since the last time I’d been–– they were out of the plum and star anise soda but that’s definitely on my list for next time. I tried a watermelon, red pepper and aloe vera juice on ice instead. I was skeptical at first; I love watermelon but not a big fan of its juice, but I was intrigued by the combination of sweet and savoury. Chris (Mr Ali Baba) said his inspiration was getting the flavour you would get from a hot pepper but without the burn.

But I also like the burn. Growing up in more temperate climates, I welcome the heat both climate-wise and in my food. If I can feel my skin crackling in the sun, or tears in my eyes from chilies, this is good. Slowly rolling down Peckham Rye Lane on my bike, sipping Chris’s concoction in the late afternoon sun, my mind was tingling with fruit/heat combinations. Watermelon equals Greek summer for me. My family get through one big one a day probably, breaking it out at the end of the meal just before siesta time.

Mango, sweet- and hot-pepper salsa

mango salsa on the table

I had a big ripe mango at home, half a cucumber and some jarred red peppers and put together a mango salsa which reminded me of that juice and the blazing heat of a proper summer. I doused my salsa in a scotch bonnet vinegar sauce I bought in a Cuban sandwich shop in North Carolina (yes, really) and we ate it with sticky rice and fried plantain: a perfect lazy Friday dinner on a summer night.

mango salsa, sticky rice, fried plantain