Revenge of the Prickly Pear

This is one of those “What was I thinking?” stories…
I had eaten prickly pear before. I had paid an exorbitant price, and had acquired the specimens in question. They were beautiful, red, juicy and delicious. From that experience I did not suspect what I was to about to endure. All of this flashed through my mind as I hung perilously off the side of the crumbling walls.  It was a hot summer afternoon and I was enjoying the adventure of scaling the summit of an 800 year old Byzantine castle. As I crested the ruined walls and entered the inner courtyard what I saw took my breath away. From my perch on the fortifications I saw a sea of prickly pear cacti, literally hundreds of plants. I had seen isolated specimens hanging as if clinging to life from the cliff sides, but I had never seen so many in one place. My mind was overrun by the thrill of the find…I felt like a culinary Indiana Jones, discovering something few people saw. Whether it was the seaside air, dehydration or some magical spell, what came next was sheer stupidity.  I was intoxicated but the sight and smell of the ripe red fruit floating as if on the wind atop flat green paddles of spikes (see picture).  I had to have one…I had to bring one or two home so I could add it to my list of culinary exploits (usually delusions of granduer do not end well). So hooking my legs onto a piece of rock which felt secure, I lowered myself into the maw of cacti teeth. Dangling over the edge I stretched out for my prize.  In one swift motion I lunged and seized a fruit in my hand. My victory was immediately marred by the searing pain in my right hand. “What the…” I yelled. The red treasure slipping from my hand, falling into the abyss below me. In my panic I almost slipped off the ledge. In flurry of rocks, dust and panic I managed to reclaim my balance, looking around to make sure no one had seen my blunder. As sweat dripped off my forehead, I looked at my hand realizing with horror that the fruit had been covered in a protective layer of almost invisible spikes, which were now imbedded into every square inch of my hand. With a sick sense of irony I said to myself, “No wonder they call them Prickly Pears” Now you know why there is no recipe that follows…

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