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Challenging Element: Peaches


When Roma Melrose was a girl in India, peaches were shipped up from Kashmir to Delhi where she grew up. They were small and sweet. They’d come wrapped in colorful tissue-like paper.

Decades have passed since her days of eating peaches in Delhi, but the memory of eating peaches as a child is so distinct that the small woman, who now lives in the countryside near Niwot, holds an invisible peach in both hands, almost pressing it to her chest. Melrose is now an accomplished cook with a catering company, specializing in international cuisine. Her burritos are now sold in several Colorado Whole Foods stores. Her use of spices is transformative. She’s known as Boulder County’s salsa queen because of her award-winning salsas: “You let me into your kitchen and I can find something to make salsa,” she says.

Growing up in India, Melrose learned cooking and spicing from her mother. She had learned a tremendous amount of esteem for flavor, and she learned to love sharing it.

Twenty four hours prior, I had given Melrose peaches as her Challenging Elements ingredient. And in just one day Melrose created a globe-trotting feast of peach perfection. Once my photographer and I arrived, she handed us each a smooth, creamy drink of peaches, yogurt, milk and honey. Similar to a lassi, the drink was cool, light and refreshing in the hot afternoon sun.

Chatting as she moved around her kitchen, Melrose served up a large platter of pilaf with peaches and topped with tomatoes. The comforting Afghani-inspired dish included fried cumin, cashews, almonds and a heap of tender, warm peaches. She paired this with a peach chutney oftomatoes and a depth-inducing blend of spices. The whole thing was delicious—not too sweet but with tons of flavor.

Lastly, she whipped up a batch of peach salsa. This yummy concoction included peaches, cilantro, onion and jalapeno. It’s a simple recipe, with few bells and whistles, but that’s just how Melrose cooks: respect for the ingredients and their flavors, respect for the cuisines that she cooks, respect for the cultures of those cuisines.

In her motherly way, Melrose packed up the salsa and a new bag of chips so I could take it back to the office.

To learn more about Roma’s Catering, visit romascatering.com.



email no info send march17th/09

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