“It is not, though, necessary nor obligatory to restrict the offering of this drink to this time of the year. By using the following recipe, Egg Nog can be presented with pride all year round. Try it soon, for your next festive home get-together.” – Alex D. Hawkes – The Rum Cookbook (1972)
“A World of Vegetable Cookery is a result of combining my interests in botany and cooking over a number of years. My researches on my particular botanical specialties- orchids, palms, bromeliads, and certain other groups of plants have taken me to many parts of the globe. Everywhere I have traveled I have had the opportunity to note the good things that appear from the kitchen or campfire.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1968)
What is Sub-Tropic Cookery? Who was botanist & cookbook author Alex D. Hawkes, from Coconut Grove?
“Originally from Mexico and Central America, botanists know the avocado as a member of the laurel family, and have records showing that the Aztecs made extensive use of it long before the arrival of Columbus on our shores.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1963)
As avocado season is upon us here in South Florida let’s delight ourselves with some freshly made Avocado Ice Cream. What could be finer in the summer, wherever you may be? Both a fruit and vegetable, the Avocado (Persea americana, of the Laurel Family), also regarded as Alligator Pear, was once a foreigner in Florida. Let’s see what Dr. David Fairchild over at The Kampong in Coconut Grove has to say about Alligator Pears.
“As I sit here at my typewriter and let my mind sweep back over the days which I have spent in the state of Florida, I discover what an impossible task it is to give anything but a most distorted picture of that past. Even the common words which I will have to use do not carry the meanings which they did at that time. The word Avocado in 1898 when there were none in Florida, except an occasional specimen in some experimenter’s yard, has a very different meaning now from what it had then. Were I writing in those days I would have to begin with the assumption that none of my readers had the faintest idea what an avocado was, for the word itself had not penetrated into the literature of the Floridians. If they knew anything about the avocado it was as an Alligator Pear. Why alligator and why pear are points I have never quite comprehended. They illustrate what I wish to bring out however, viz. that the so called “things” of history are merely symbols and that it is with these symbols and not with the things that History is mainly concerned.” – Dr. David Fairchild – The Kampong – Coconut Grove, FL. (1942) TEQUESTA
“The avocado is one of those wonderful tropical delicacies which can be classed either as a fruit or as a vegetable, depending upon how it is used.”
“Though its origins date back to pre-Columbian times in Mexico and Guatemala, today the finest avocados in the world are raised here in South Florida, where their commercial production falls into the category of big business.”
“Through the development of new early-bearing varieties, our avocado season is now almost nine months of the year, certainly a record for a tropical fruit!” – Alex D. Hawkes
“Originally from Mexico and Central America, botanists know the avocado as a member of the laurel family, and have records showing that the Aztecs made extensive use of it long before the arrive of Columbus on our shores.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1963)
And here’s Alex’s Brazilian Avocado Cream, which can be adapted with various creams and nut based milks to suit your needs, experiment, let us know, surely Alex wouldn’t object. Enjoy.
Brazilian Avocado Cream
“In Brazil, the avocado is known as abacate, and is a favorite ingredient in menus, whether simple or ornate. Here is a wonderful dessert from a cidademaravilhosa, Rio de Janeiro.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1968)
2 large, very ripe avocados
2 to 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
Press avocado pulp through a sieve or food processor to make a puree. Thoroughly blend in other ingredients. Chill for at least two hours. Serve in a chilled parfait glasses. Serves 4 to 6.
“This is rather a kind of “coal back to Newcastle,” for the man who introduced these commercial dates from the Arabic countries was the Iate Dr. David Fairchild, who also gave me my first home here in South Florida, and for many years encouraged me in my botanical work in this area.” – Alex D. Hawkes
Certain places capture an energy that can’t be described beyond simply living in the moment. Coconut Grove is such a place, and the stories within it’s curvy roads have been heard by the trees that line street names that reminisce about a Grove filled with characters, fruits, birds & memories. Here’s a recipe for all the “Grovites” out there, perhaps Alex served you some Kampong Date Chews during high tea in his backyard garden in Coconut Grove? Or maybe you enjoyed them with his, Dr. Fairchild & Mrs. Marian Hubbard Graham Bell Fairchild’s company, at The Kampong, along the Biscayne Bay? Alex Hakwes named this recipe after Dr. Fairchild’s residence in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood, The Kampong. A captivating tropical botanic garden, that is still preserved and open for one’s enjoyment and amazement in enchanting Coconut Grove, Florida.
The recipe for Kampong Date Chews also appears in Alex’s first cookbook, South Florida Cookery (1964), aside from the 1963 Miami Herald “For Gourmets Only” column we’re sharing with you today.
“Dr. Fairchild’s experiences with dates and the almost insurmountable difficulties he had trying to introduce them here are well known to readers of his marvelous books. He tasted, on several occasions at “The Kampong” here in Coconut Grove, these Date Chews, and I believe that he felt that not all of his efforts had been in vain after doing so.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1963-10-01) The Miami Herald
Alex would receive a yearly bountiful supply of wonderful Indio dates from California, as a sort of thank-you from the editor of an orchid magazine to which he regularly contributed to. Let’s see how he put these dates from the Palm tree Phoenix dactylifera to use. The date palm is in the palm family Arecaceae, which is cultivated for the fruit produced by the palms.
“This is rather a kind of “coal back to Newcastle,” for the man who introduced these commercial dates from the Arabic countries was the Iate Dr. David Fairchild, who also gave me my first home here in South Florida, and for many years encouraged me in my botanical work in this area.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1963-10-01) The Miami Herald
TRY THESE COOKIE-CAKES
Kampong Date Chews
2 cups dates, cut into 1/4-inch sections (use scissors)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups raw rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup melted butter
When preparing these moist cookies – or are they really small cakes? – be gentle in the mixing; also when placing the various layers into the pan. They are not complicated, but beating the ingredients can cause them to “fall.” They are also better after sitting refrigerated overnight, and, then allowing them to come to room temperature.
In a saucepan, cook over very low heat the dates, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, and 1 tablespoon flour. When this thickens and dates are just barely soft, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the vanilla.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, rolled oats, and brown sugar, using your hands to combine them gently but thoroughly. Add melted butter, and again be gentle while mixing thoroughly. In a shallow, well-greased 8”x 12” pan, place one-half of this flour-oats mixture; pat it down gently. Next add the date mixture, spreading it very thoroughly, and top with the remaining flour-oats mixture, which again is patted down gently. Bake in preheated, 365-degree oven for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and cut into Squares. Makes 20 to 30 squares.