Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Prickly Pear Cactus Liqueur

I had this amazingly beautiful liqueur at the Canadian embassy in Paris this summer. What I was doing there was a long story, but the drink was was given as a gift to the ambassador by one of his staff on the occasion of his leaving service (the ambassador's retirement, that is). The ambassador then chose to share it with his family and with me and Michelle, which was lovely (and lucky for us!).

The liqueur is made with fico di india (literally 'indian fig'), which is one of the Italian names for the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. The fruits are funny little red buds on top of the flat (and very prickly!) cactus paddles. The liqueur is made in Sicily and Malta, and is sometimes called Bajtra. The staff served it in cut crystal glasses, and it was a startlingly red colour, almost glowing in the light of the lamp. The flavour was strong and sweet and had sour notes too. The sharing of the drink was so generous and had a lot of meaning for the ambassador – such is the power of food and drink.

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