The prickly pear enjoys a very mixed reputation internationally.
It is a cactus native to the Americas but was widely exported in the 1800s. In Australia it is now considered a particularly pernicious and unwelcome weed. But in Mediterranean and Arabic countries the fruit is sought after as a delicacy.
In the first of our series on Arabic desserts the food writer Anissa Helou uses them to flavour a perennial favourite in Europe, the Arab world and even Australia: ice cream! She told Anna McNamee , Arabs were enjoying ice cream at least three hundred years ago. And it is still very popular today.
Anissa Helou’s books:
Mediterranean Street Food, Harper Collins, ISBN 0-06-019596-7 Lebanese Cuisine, Grub Street, ISBN 1898697639
Café Morocco Conran Octopus, ISBN 1 85029 958 7
The Fifth Quarter: An Offal Cookbook ISBN 1904573215 Recipe for Prickly Pear Ice Cream
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