I’m writing yet another article on the ins and out of being a pretend Santiaguina. It’s fun stuff. Today found me zipping in and out of traffic on my bike (with my helmet, of course), from the health insurance company straight over to the Vega. The Vega is the main fruit and veg market in Santiago, a ragtag collection of vendors and stands and looking every bit like a place you’d see in National Geographic. But it’s part of home, and just like the creepy basement in your grandmother’s house that you grew to love, the Vega has a special place in my heart.
I was on a mission, and I bought several kinds of fruit that you probably don’t see in your grocery store. I’m writing this article, you see, and it’s not fair to write it from memory. I should really taste the tastes as I’m writing. So I bought. Cherimoya, prickly pear cactus, loquats and lúcumas. They sat around my apartment doing pretty much nothing (me too), when it occurred to me that it might be nice to have some pictures to accompany the article. The sun was doing its afternoon low-in-the-sky thing, so I decided to use my windowsill to style the fruit. It’s called being a food stylist. They pay people to make the food more photographable. Spritzed with this and torched with that. I read an article about it once in the Washington Post. It happened to be profiling the sister of a DC historian and friend of mine, Lisa Cherkasky. In addition to writing and photographing this gorgeous pie cookbook, called The Artful Pie (together with Renée Comet), she is the foodstylist for the Washington Post, and she also once advised me to use lemon curd as the filling in a cake I made for an ex. And it was delicious.
But I digress, and you’re wondering about the lúcuma. Lúcumas are a brownish orange round little fruit, smaller than a tennis ball. Inside they taste like maple and yams, and have a pretty starchy orange flesh inside. Before I cut them open, I had them sitting on my windowsill, looking very stylish and photographable. But neither spritzed nor torched. I was leaning this way and that, trying to get the right angle with the sun etc, when s-l-o-w-l-y one of the lúcumas tried to get away. Rolling, rolling, bouncing on the second ledge, and then 10m per second squared, from six stories up, I heard a SPLAT. At least it wasn’t my camera.
Later this evening I shall post the carnage. So sad.
and then there were two, and a knife came upon them
and here’s the one that got away