Kiwi Melba

Politics and food? It’s incredibly annoying.

Take kiwi fruit, for example.

This brown, fuzzy-skinned fruit originated in China, which introduced it to New Zealand which wanted to market it here during the 1950s.

Unfortunately, at that time it was known as a “Chinese Gooseberry” and the U.S.A. was deep into McCarthy fever at the time. There were politicians who wanted nothing to do with anything that smacked of communism.


Sort of reminds me of those today who make fun of anyone who speaks “French” as if knowing another language was something to be embarrassed about. As if anything French was bad (like “french fries” once idiotically referred to as “liberty fries.”). 


So back to Kiwi. Because of some demagogues the country missed out on this delicious — and healthy — and beautiful fruit for decades.

Chinese gooseberries became really really popular in the 1980s after they were renamed kiwi fruit. So popular, in fact, that it was overdone, like so many food trends. Kiwi this, kiwi that. People got sick of them.

Today we’re all used to seeing kiwi fruit in the produce bins. They’re not exotic anymore.

But they are delicious. Beautiful and healthy. I sometimes add a few chunks to Chicken with Rice or use them on top of shortcake when strawberries are out of season (like now) or add them to salads (like rice or some whole grain with leftover meat or fish) or to garnish a cheesecake or custard tart.

I tasted kiwi fruit for the first time ages ago at a friend’s wedding. The dessert they served was Kiwi Melba. Plain, simple and refreshing after a 3-course dinner. The garnet-colored sauce, made from fresh raspberries was a stunning contrast to the emerald-green flesh of the kiwi fruit, like two precious jewels in a cup. It dazzled. I’ve served it at home, to company. It’s one of those desserts that takes almost no time to prepare and comes off as something very special to look at and to eat, as if you’ve fussed.

Here’s the recipe. If you want to elaborate, add a dollop of whipped cream and/or chopped toasted almonds on top. And/or place the fruit and sauce inside a meringue shell.

Kiwi Melba

6-8 kiwi fruit

2 boxes fresh raspberries (2 to 2-1/2 cups)

2-3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons orange flavored brandy

whipped cream, optional

chopped toasted almonds, optional

Peel the kiwi fruit, cut them into quarters or chunks and place the pieces inside 6 dessert serving dishes. Crush the berries in a food processor or by hand. Add the sugar and brandy and mix thoroughly. Let rest for at least 10 minutes. Spoon over the kiwi. Top with whipped cream and/or toasted almonds if desired. Makes 6 servings