Homemade Apple Juice
I think I saw my first mango at the age of 21, after having moved to Germany. There are plenty of anecdotes about communist Romania, deprived of oranges, bananas and even the bare minimum groceries. However, even after the iron curtain fell and Romania escaped communism, our progression was slow. There was not much exoticism in our supermarkets and I personally grew up without seeing many pineapples and never actually seeing a mango while I lived in Romania. My first year in Germany was coined by the phrase "we don´t have that in Romania". I then moved to Portugal and got acquainted to cactus and dragon fruits. I traveled to Brazil and learned about giant passion fruit.
We now make "happiness juices" at home on a weekly basis and André simply loves to add the most exotic fruit in them. Between you and me - he adds way too many fruits in it at times. This is how I I´ve learned that there´s a type of extra sweet pineapple in Portugal and that bananas from Madeira are extra cute. It´s how I learned how gorgeous a dragon fruit looks like and how magical the Carambola is. I learned there´s such a thing as a horned melon and it´s called kiwano and I learned that tamarillo looks like and is called a tree tomato.
And while I enjoy all of these, I cannot stop missing Romania´s huge and sweet watermelons that you get to taste in the market by carving an opening in them. I miss our neighbour´s cherries, that I would climb on our garage and go through a huge adventure to pick. And while I don´t remember their taste much, I miss the apples from my mother´s childhood home that she cannot stop talking about. The garden seemed much bigger when I was little, visiting it now I was rather underwhelmed by how much smaller my whole world had become. The apple trees are cut and all that remains from my grandpartents´ old home is the big green gate guarding this little universe.
Dreaming of this home I never had the privilege to live in, I went to the supermarket on a hot Portuguese Sunday morning and bought myself 1,5 kg of local sweet apples. I took them home in a picnic basket, ran them through our juice maker and made some 1,5 l of deliciously sweet apple juice. Caseiro - as they same in Portugal - home made. I added no sugar and no water, I wanted to keep the taste as true as possible. I usually associate September with apples, pears and prunes even if nowadays you get anything at anytime. I choose to believe in seasons. The magic of the madeleine effect, the warm and fuzzy feelings one gets when taking a bite or a sniff of a dish that reminds oneself of childhood, of a time of no worries or problems, that is one of the many things that make me happy. For a few moments, I forget how far away from home I am and felt surrounded by magic. Because magic is in the little things.