Summer brings forth summer blooms, summer smells, summer yells, summer spells and of course, summer gels (jellies) and summer chills…summer is hot, and yet who does not look forward to it? Promises of holidays, lazing, travel, visiting and visitors…..and don't forget the food, especially, the summer specials.

Anything special?

Come on! I know what's on your mind. What else can it be, if not for our very own special, our king of fruits, our own mango comes in many of its avatars. Starting with the mango blossom and its heady fragrance. It gives our heart the cheer that all is well with our mango season. We send up prayers that the bloom is not disturbed with gales and cyclones. Then comes the small green mango for our unique pickle called vadu-mangai. This is followed by other green mangoes for a variety of pickles and chutneys. The Maharaja of all is of course, avakai, the famous Andhra pickle.

The fruit is on the way already, making a jump start with peether, sindhoora, alphonso, malgoa, rasalu, banganapalle and leaving the end of the season to rumani and neelam. There may be other local strains and hybrids too. I leave you to slurp over mangoes in your imagination!

The next colourful scene for summer is made up with the water melons, melons, oranges, grapes, pomegranates, papayas and bananas of all hues. Cherries, pears, apricots, mangosteins, avocados and strawberries are the newly emerging fruits in our markets.

So there's no doubt that summer is the time for fruits, fruits and more fruits! You can go for crushed ice juices, iced softies, ice creams and fruit ices. These very words are cooling, are they not?

Summer vegetables

Watery vegetables, for sure. Cucumbers jump to our minds, don't they? The refreshing crunch of biting into a crisp and juicy cucumber is a heavenly experience, provided you think vegetables are heavenly. Add a few more gourds and tomatoes along with carrots, beets, tomatoes, cabbage and other greens like parsley and lettuce; top it up with yellow baby corn and red, table- radish. You can have a mouth-watering plate of salad with any suitable dressing!! Keep your salads chilled and they serve as an interesting snack, any time of the day and they can be part of any menu too.

In North India, every street has a vendor pushing a colourful cart of sliced green cucumbers, amber or pink carrots and white mooli. Nearly like our national flag and looking very tempting!

Soup up with soups

Soups are suitable for any season. Hot and thin soups for the winter and cold and thick soups for summer. One of my favourites is the chilled cucumber soup. Try it, you will fall in love… with the soup, I mean!!

Cool and Chilled drinks

Panaakam, buttermilk, lassi, fruit juices, and chilled rasam especially lime rasam and vepam poo rasam.

Cold teas and iced coffee, and milk shake…anything to beat these? May be ice creams and sundaes.

So, cool off in summer with all cooling items mentioned. Hey don't forget our lifesaver water. Cool, cold, iced, chilled, any temperature that you prefer and can afford, it is the best for any season. Personally, my preference is for cool water from a mud pot, but I have not analysed it for microbial count, though I'm fussy on all other counts!

The author is Dean, Academy of Fitness Management, FitnessOne.

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