Thursday, September 30, 2004

Refreshing Pineapple Crush

When I was about fourteen years old, the greatest thing happened: my dad was awarded a prize for being the number one salesman at the transport company he worked for. The prize was redeemable in overseas travel, and having just returned from a sales conference in Singapore (Dad's first ever trip overseas), my father was keen for the rest of the family to take a trip on a plane. He decided it was time for a family holiday.

There was much debate over what our destination would be. My mother was keen on America, but the budget wouldn't stretch that far. I was keen on London, mainly because I was stark raving bonkers about Duran Duran at the time. I can't remember what my sister's preference was, but I think Dad was seriously considering New Zealand at one point. I don't know what made him about face, but one night, he finally announced that we were heading to Fiji.

The flight there was absolutely shocking. Nobody told me they airconditioned the cabins to the same temperature as our tucker box freezer. All I remember of that trip is being chilled to the bone. But Fiji - it was a tropical paradise. We stayed at the Fijian Resort, which I believe still stands today, albeit a bit weather beaten and somewhat aged. On our arrival we were served an icy cold glass of pineapple juice, freshly squeezed and sweeter than anything I've ever tasted in my life!

Crushed pineapple juice became the standard drink for all of us on that trip. We drank it at breakfast, at lunch, and at dinner - you name it, we pineappled ourselves to within inches of our lives. One afternoon, after a hot and perilous trip to Suva (on the exact opposite side of the island to where we were staying) we returned to the resort parched and desperate for a juice. We sat down in the open air brasserie and ordered our pineapple crushes - the waiter shocked us all by announcing they had run out of pineapples!

We were gob smacked! No pineapples? What the hell did they expect us to drink? My dad immediately ordered a Fiji Bitter. I foolishly decided I would have nothing until the next load pineapples arrived - what if that had taken a week? Lucky for me, it was only a half hour wait. The pineapples were straight off the truck (probably from the market at Singatoka) and warm. The waiter loaded our glasses with crushed ice then began shoving the pineapples through the juice extractor right by our tableside. I was thrilled! Pineapples were back in town!

1 fresh pineapple, any size
1/2 cup ice cold water
small handful of mint
1 tblsp sugar
crushed ice

1. Peel pineapple. Contrary to popular belief, you do this with the pineapple's spike still attached! Use it as a handle to get a grip on while you carefully slice the spiky skin off, ensuring all remnants are removed.

2. Cut the pineapple flesh through the middle lengthways. Then cut it again into quarters and again into eighths. Carefully slice the core from the edge of the pineapple pieces and discard.

3. Fire up your juice extractor and feed the pineapple wedges through one at a time. If you don't have a juice extractor you can use a blender. Chop the pineapple flesh into small pieces and blend in two or three batches, using the water to help the blender blades turn.

4. Pour all the pineapple juice (and water if you used a juice extractor) into a large glass jug, one third filled with crushed ice.

5. Wash mint leaves, roughly break in half and sprinkle over top of pineapple juice. Stir in with wooden spoon or large swizzle stick.

6. Pour into a glass, insert a straw and drink! You can hang a paper parasol off the side of your glass if you want to feel like you're on holidays while you sip!

Note: if you're drinking this at party time, add 30ml of white rum to spice up your life!

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