Lately, I am reading a lot of fun posts on social media from friends in Indiana who are beginning to celebrate fall. Cooler temperatures, changing colors, football games, and trips to orchards or corn mazes are just a few of the signs of the approaching season up north. The only reason I am aware of fall’s coming in San Carlos is my calendar. That and a very odd, out-of-place fall display at the Guaymas Walmart. The temperatures remain warm and the sky a brilliant blue. With rainy season just past us, rich hues of green cover the surrounding mountains. Late blooming flowers boast vibrant shades of purples and pinks. On weekends, boaters, jet skiers, and swimmers still enjoy the warm water of the Sea of Cortez.
Last year, some friends and I decided to bring a little Indiana fall to Mexico with a twist on the traditional caramel apple. The idea of making this treat came to us in the middle of a downtown shopping trip when my friend described a delicious apple she had eaten over the weekend at a baseball game. Having no internet access for a quick recipe look up, we relied on helpful shopkeepers to direct us to what we would need. As a result, we ended up with a pouch of tamarind paste, a bag of tajín seasoning, and a bottle of chamoy sauce. And we had absolutely no idea what exactly to do with any of them.
I spent the rest of that afternoon searching for recipes on-line – -recipes that matched the ingredients we had already purchased that is. It seems there are much easier ways to make Chamoy Apples, as tamarind is sold in fruit roll up form, ready to be pressed around the apples. After nearly depleting the battery in my phone, I found (a much more involved) recipe that would work. Ah, what were a few more steps between friends anyway?
We started our apple making over breakfast by translating the steps of the recipe. Yes, the recipe that best suited our purchases was in Spanish. Confident that we understood what to do, we began making one of the biggest messes I have ever seen in a kitchen. Tamarind paste is not easy to work with. It stuck to the package it came in, the stove, the pan, the spoon, the counter, our hands, the cute little cupcake liners, the wooden sticks… The “professionals” in the YouTube videos made it look effortless – – and clean! It took longer to wash the pan than it did to cover all of our apples. And if tajín was glitter, I would have been ready for a night of clubbing.
Was it worth it? You better believe it! One bite and an explosion of flavors filled my mouth. The fall treat was a perfect coming together of sweet, sour, and spicy. I put on a sweatshirt, turned the air conditioner down, and gazed at the September/October pages in my National Parks calendar while eating my apple. And once I was done, I slipped on my bathing suit and high tailed it over to the pool.