There’s a stretch of highway that lines eastern part of Hanoi, hugging the Red River. It’s cheered slightly by the longest mural in the world (endless streams of turquoise, mustard and honey-pink portrayals of dragons and such), but for the most part, it’s a pretty damn seedy part of town. I take the bus from a major transit stop there every morning.
If I had a Canadian dollar for every time someone tried to get me to take their xe om – motorbike taxi (“moto?” “moto-bike?” “where you want go?” “moto-taxi?) I could rent my own wheels in a week and be done with it. So aggravating! I know how to say “please, no motorbike taxi for me this morning” in Vietnamese, and that’s usually more than enough to convince them, but this stop is different. They grab your arm, hover and giggle and stare, and they do this to everyone, not just foreigners. Sigh.
Yesterday, the familiar refrain started up behind me. “Moto? You want go?”
This time, though, it was different. This time, it was a girl. Well, a woman anyway. I had to admit trying a bit to repress an urge to acknowledge her, out of sheer appreciation for her nature (but that nature included daily heckling of innocent bus-riders, so it wasn’t all that hard to quell).
I sat down. The regular swarm of drivers came by. I lit a cigarette.
I don’t remember how it happened, but I just knew I had to offer her a smoke when she came walking by again. The least I could do? I tossed one to her friend as well, and we shared a moment of eye-contact, of unspoken communication, respect even. We puffed a bit, and then they dispersed to leave me miraculously in peace.
With just enough time before the bus came to let the flashiest Vietnamese boy I’d ever seen lunge across the transit way to borrow my lighter – nails as long as pennies, wonky asymmetrical hair, and skintight powder blue club-pants. Not something you see everyday in this country. There was a distinct moment of mutual appreciation, there, too.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes, classics get reinvented, and they become interesting again when you least expect them to do so. And while I know that mincemeat is a bit of a classic in such a way that people have been known to come to holiday-table blows over it’s specificity of preparation, I am of the mind that recipes intended for preserving should reflect the situation that they’re in. My situation involves pineapple and mango a lot, and while currants and apples are a bit more precious, they do have fantabulous dried kiwis here, so who am I to argue? Into the pot with the requisite spices and booze, thanks please.
And, it makes enough to share. Even with hecklers.
- 1 large cooking apple, minced
- 1 small pineapple, minced (about 2-3 cups)
- 1 mango, minced
- 1 cup raisins, minced
- 1 cup raisins, currants or cherries, minced
- 1 cup dried tropical fruit (papaya, kiwi, mango, etc)
- 1 cup tropical fruit juice, or orange juice
- 1/4 cup cane syrup
- 1″ piece of ginger, minced very fine
- 1/4 cup dried orange peel
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2/3 cup rum
- juice of 1/2 lime
- pinch of salt
Pile all the fruits, juice, syrup, peel and spices together in a big pot (apples through nutmeg), and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the apples start to soften and the raisins release their juice into the mix. Take off the heat, stir in the coconut oil, vanilla, rum, lime juice and salt, and place into jars.
It will keep 3 months at least in the refridgerator (probably a lot longer), and for years if you properly preserve it in mason jars. At least until next Christmas!