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Papaya, Mango, Cucumber and Lime salad

Californian's are blessed  to live in a region where there are many farmers markets going on at all times. They are all wonderful, filled with fresh local produce and beautiful handcrafted wares, but my absolute favorite of them all is the market that has been held at the La Jolla Childrens School Playground for at least the last 10 years. Held every Sunday morning rain or shine from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm, its a feast for the senses filled with stands brimming with the freshest flowers and fruits that you've ever seen. It was at this market that I discovered something absolutely delightful called a sweet lime, which was indeed , a sweet lime! The vendors are generous with samples and it is impossible to leave this place empty handed!  2006_0310California0111
One of the best parts of the market are the food vendors! Here in the "Food Court" you can find freshly prepared Mexican, Ethiopian, Persian and French food. No one could possibly leave hungry! My absolute favorite thing to eat here besides the brie, spinach and caramelized onion crepe that I wolf down with sheer ravenous pleasure is actually a very easy salad made with the freshest fruits that I've ever seen. I don't have a picture of it, so hopefully my words will suffice.  Besides, in my opinion the imagination is always the best cooking tool!

There is a very simple stand next to the creperie and it's run by two lovely Mexican women in traditional dress who stand all morning and slice mangos, papayas and cucumbers to order. They work with the loveliest rhythm, humming and easily slicing long spears of the freshest fruit, which they then arrange  in a tall plastic cup , squeeze the juice of a fresh lime over each one and a dusting of ground chipotle chile pepper. I think that this total feast for the senses costs about 4.00. It is one of the most delicious salads that I have ever eaten and because you have to eat it with your hands, one of the most delightful! This one salad never ceases to prove to me that sometime the simplest things are the absolute best.2006_0310California0099

I make it at home only when the fruit is ripe enough! I love the combination of the fresh fruit and the crunchy cucumber laced with the chiles and lime. The only things that I do differently are to mix up the lime juice,chile and chopped Thai basil to which I  then add a bit of dark agave nectar and a sprinkling of Fleur de Sel. The agave adds a hint of something sweet and floral that I like and the salt is a perfect foil for the sweet and spicy!

To make this incredibly simple pleasure just slice a fresh mango, papaya and cucumber into long (about 6 inches) swordlike spears. Arrange them on the prettiest platter that you have and dress them with the lime juice, chile, agave nectar and basil dressing (approximately the juice of 2 limes, 4 good dashes of chile, 3 tablepoons of agave nectar and 1/4 cup of chopped Thai basil whisked together ,more or less of anything to taste!) Then sprinkle with the Fleur de Sel. That's it. You can also use fresh watermelon here with alot of success and even very ripe canteloupe. 
These same ingredients make a wonderful fresh cocktail or mocktail if you throw them into the blender with some ice and tequila or sans tequila and a bit of peach juice ....Purely a pleasure for a hot summers day!IMG_0250
Just remember to wash your hands before you touch your eyes... the chile is delightfully hot stuff!