My mom brings fruit salads to everything. In summer, she makes them with melon, in the winter she uses citrus. She uses a melon baller in the summer, making perfect, luscious orbs of green, orange and red. She throws in grapes and something seasonal, such as strawberries or blueberries and layers it with kiwi.
In the winter, she uses all edible citrus the store has to offer and, most importantly, maraschino cherries.
The more maraschino cherries I get in my serving, the happier I am. She won’t let me pick them all out of the salad bowl, so I’m skilled at catching as many as I can in one scoop.
When my husband and I started dating, I met his parents at a picnic, so I went with Mom’s fruit salad. When I got there, they asked me what I had and I said “I don’t cook, but I make a h-eck of a fruit salad.” I had barely escaped saying the real h-word, but it was blatantly obvious what had happened, and everyone laughed.
That picnic was in 1996. For our 2001 wedding, John’s aunt gave me a beautiful glass bowl with carved and painted fruit along the outside edge, and I am still bringing my “heck of a good fruit salad” to family gatherings.
These days, I try to include at least one surprise ingredient. Recently, I made one studded with ruby red pomegranate seeds. I’ve also used mint, honey, coconut, mango, apples and pears doused in lemon juice (they don’t turn brown), bing cherries (pitted), raspberries (too squishy and they dyed everything purple).
This year I’m doing navel oranges, red grapefruit, tangerines, clementines, mandarin oranges, pineapple and, of course, maraschino cherries. If you don’t like them, pick them out and give them to me.