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Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007 09:51 am

Tropical winter

When the weather gets tricky, itÂ’s pineapple time!

Untitled Document Just a few days ago, the news from your neighborhood climatologist might have suggested there’s really something to that global warming thing. Take the first Saturday of January, when temperatures climbed into the low 70s in the Northeast — where the weather is supposed to be . . . well, you know what it’s supposed to be.
A parade of flip-flops and Capris I can deal with. But when I see photos of people sunbathing in January in the nation’s capital, that’s when I’m no longer sure where I am or what day, week, or month it is. When Jan. 6 feels more like June 6, the climate scramble doesn’t just screw up your sense of place and time. It screws up your appetite. What does one eat for supper on a January eve that calls for al fresco dining in Portland, Maine? Out with the hot cocoa, in with the mojitos? Scrap that stew for barbecue? Let’s fire up that barbie — because we’re in Australia, right?
Poor me, I was so confused. And my head was spinning — could I be dizzy from the heat? I took respite under the shade of a Douglas fir and was determined to prepare something that would help restore my equilibrium.
One of the first things that came to mind was pineapple, with its cooling chunks of tropical mellow yellow. It would be a perfect antidote to the global-warming-induced haze I was experiencing and a quick way to rehydrate. The accompanying recipe is a page torn from the notebooks of Thai home cooks, who know their way around the sweet-savory-spicy-pungent balancing act. Strange as it seems at first, chiles, peanuts, and soy sauce marry beautifully and are willing to go a step further, with small amounts of fish sauce and dried shrimp. Although it’s stinky at first, your tongue will be doing a jig just a few minutes later. Make a batch of rice, and as the juices speak to the grains all your worries about greenhouse gases will fade into the January-June sunset — at least until next month.

Culinary questions? Contact Kim O’Donnel at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.
Thai-style pineapple salad

One fresh pineapple, peeled and cut into chunks,      away from core Half a fresh chile of your choice, seeded and diced Half bunch fresh cilantro, chopped 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped Zest of one lime Juice of half a lime 1 teaspoon brown sugar 2 teaspoons soy sauce 1 teaspoon fish sauce 1 tablespoon chopped, dried shrimp (optional;      available at Thai groceries)
Place pineapple chunks in a medium bowl and add chile, cilantro, peanuts, and lime zest. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce and stir to combine until sugar is nearly dissolved. Pour over pineapple and, with a large spoon, stir to combine and coat fruit with dressing. Add dried shrimp, if you are using them, and stir to combine. Best served with rice. Great paired with anything grilled — fish, chicken, beef, pork, roasted red peppers, tofu.
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