Copas de Fruta

A copas de Fruta is Spanish for seasonal fruit cup or fresh fruit cocktail. It is sprinkled with chile powder, salt, and sugar, then a squeeze of lime. The dried chile guajillo pepper with its thick mild flesh (pronounced [gwah-HEE-yoh]) is one of the most common Old Mexican pantry chiles. It creates a sweet taste with a surprisingly mild hot finish since it is not considered spicy. It is long and pointy, with a beautiful maroon color. Its skin is leathery smooth and shinny on the outside, but it is hard and tougher and less pliable than other dried chiles, making it easy to grind. This is considered a kitchen workhorse chile with a lot of dazzle, available as a whole dried chile (in bags) or as a ground chile powder. Whole guajillo chiles are typically available in most Mexican markets and some well-stocked grocery stores with an Latin ethnic section. Copas de Fruta is easily found from push cart street vendors in Mexican cities. Notice that cucumber and jicama are considered fruits. My favorite fruit vendor liked to sculpt mangoes into flowers, or arrange fruit in spears of color.

Copas de Fruta
Asssortment of peeled watermelon, cucumber, papaya, mango and jicama, cut into long spears
4 guajillo chiles, wiped with a moist towel to remove any dust
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
Sliced lime
Instructions: To prepare the chile powder, you need to remove the stem, seeds and veins. Toast the chile in a skillet or comal for about 10 to 15 seconds per side, until it turns brownish and opaque. Just be careful not to burn it or it will taste bitter. Then grind in spice grinder or coffee grinder reserved for spices. Or, buy a ground chile (1 teaspoon ground chile = 1 dried chile) and mix it with the salt and sugar; you should get about 3 tablespoons total.

Cut the fruit into spears. Lightly sprinkle on the spice mixture. Arrange standing up in deep plastic cups and add a lime slice. Serves 6 to 8