What is Ambrosia?
Salad or Mythology, perhaps a bit of both?
When I think of ambrosia, I immediately think of that wonderful sweet salad that people would bring to get togethers or potlucks. In modern times, that is what most people will think of if they know what it is at all. Like my husband asked recently, "What is ambrosia?" I couldn't believe that he didn't know! Once I described an example of an ambrosia salad, he then knew what I meant of course. In fairness to him, this dish can be more of a recipe you might see served in the South, and he never grew up or had relatives from the South like I did.
The recipes for ambrosia can vary greatly, once you start to look around. I want to share that there is an older meaning to the word ambrosia as well. Did yo know there is a Greek and Roman Mythological element to ambrosia? I had no idea. It was considered a food of the gods, It was thought to confer immortality even. It was the food, or food and drink of the gods on Mount Olympus. It is interesting to note, that the Latin, from Greek "ambrosia", is ambrotos, which means immortal or immortalizing.
The second idea or meaning for ambrosia is something with an especially delicious fragrance or flavor to it. This definition could count for many ambrosia recipes that I have tasted! In fact, it could be considered extraordinarily fragrant, and is thought to have been conceived of as a purified form (or idealized form) of honey. It also was accompanied by a nectar, or wine of the gods. Anything very appealing to the smell, or to taste.
I have seen a recipe for Ambrosia Sauce, and an ambrosia cocktail. Those might be some interesting things to look into more. for the right occasion.
The last idea is the one I already mentioned, that being a salad or concoction with primarily oranges and coconut included. Or, it can often include bananas also as a main ingredient. Really, one could call it a variation on a traditional fruit salad. Often, it will contain sweetened whipped cream, and small or large cut up marshmallows. People have used yogurt, or sour cream, or just whipped regular cream as well, allowing the other sweeter ingredients to do the remainder of the sweetening.
Some of the prettier ambrosias that I have seen include maraschino cherries or strawberries. I have seen blackberries used as well. So as you can see, you can really create an ambrosia recipe with your favorite fruit and berries. Often, part of what makes it so sweet, besides the oranges and bananas, is drained pineapple chunks.
People like to toss in pecans, on occasion, to lend a nice crunch. After an ambrosia salad is assembled, it is usually necessary to refrigerate for a couple of hours at least. One nice way to top it would be with more fruit that you used, or a sprig of mint and a cherry, for example.
Easy Recipe for Ambrosia
While I love fresh fruit the best, this recipe is great any time of the year as it uses canned fruit.
You will need:
2 cans of Regular Fruit Cocktail
2 cans of Tropical Fruit Cocktail
2 cans of cut up Pineapple
4 cans of mandarin oranges
1 bag of white miniature marshmallows
1 large container of sour cream
1 little jar of marschino cherries (I cut them in half)
1 cup of shredded coconut (sweetened if desired)
Drain the juice from the fruit, while reserving the liquid from whichever fruit you like best. Use some of that juice to think the sour cream some. Also, reserve some of the cherries and coconut to put on top.
Mix all together, adding any other berries you may have on hand, then chill. A fresh peppermint sprig looks nice on top as well.