Welcome to our regular recipe column from local teacher and stand-up comedian Sarah Whitmore. In this installment, Sarah takes a firm stance on eating at the beach and explains why we should go home and make pico de plums instead.

Photo by Sarah Whitmore

Pico de Plums

You know what would improve the natural environment of Doran Beach? Seven Calamari Shacks—with tables and chairs, nestled near the dune grass. We’re not all the same kind of environmentalist.I’m sick of it. I don’t want to see anymore people sitting in the sand, jamming turkey wraps into their maws. Why, when we have thumbs and walk upright, are we squatting by the shore for meals? The sandy part of the beach is for kite flying and thawing ice-cold leg cramps—not dining.

What are you, a driftless coyote foraging for downed gulls? Stop eating on the beach. Go home like a human being and make dinner.

Why am I opposed to beach dining? Aside from the maddening sensation of sand cracking between my molars—do I need another reason? How about the palate-clogging influence of sunscreen-coated fingers? I don’t like the way people look when they eat on a beach—elbows jacked up and out, legs spread to allow chunks of sun-warmed sandwich parts to drop on the ground. Why are you eating on the ground like a skunk?

Backpackers—even squirrels—perch on logs and boulders when snacking.

And we wonder why our children behave badly at the dinner table. Kids learn through imitation. And here we go exposing them to the manners of swooping, criminal surf birds and hostile, shifty crabs. May as well throw out the plates and silverware and burn the dining table in the yard like a cave person.

My kids loved the beach so much, the promise of food was the only way I could get their blue, shivering bodies out of our local, Great White Shark-infested waters and up to the car.

Go home, wash the sand out of your ears, and make this crazy delicious plum salsa. This pico de fruta is delicious over grilled prawn tacos, with barbecued chicken, or spooned into avocado halves. The secret ingredient—ground sumac—will mystify and delight your guests.

Photo by Sarah Whitmore

Choose a deep red or purple plum for artsy contrast with the gleaming white onion. The little gold-orange peppers will bring out rose-violet hues in the dish—a bright side for a gorgeous summer meal. This sauce is great fresh but gets even better after a day in the fridge.


4 to 5 firm plums

½ bunch cilantro

1 small-medium bright, white onion

¼ cup lime juice (3 to 4 limes)

2 to 3 small, mild yellow/orange peppers

1 to 2 fresh jalape.o peppers

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon salt (or more, this is your house)

½ teaspoon ground sumac (THE SECRET INGREDIENT!)

Pinch of ground clove

Ground cayenne, to taste, if your jalapenos are weak and you want more heat.


  1. Make sure to choose ripe but firm plums.
  2. Chop plums into nickel-to-quarter sized chunks.
  3. Remove as many cilantro stems as you have the patience for. Run a knife over the leaves—don’t over chop!
  4. Dice white onion into pretty confetti bits.
  5. Squeeze limes. Throw some of the peels into the garbage disposal to help with that smell from your summer compost bucket.
  6. Chop your gold-orange peppers a little smaller than the plums.
  7. Finely mince the jalapeno and garlic.
  8. Season with salt, ground sumac, a pinch of ground clove—maybe a little cayenne, and stir in.
  9. Let mixture sit for at least 20 minutes to allow the lime juice to “cook” the bitterness out of your garlic and marry the flavors.


Be the first to leave a comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Next Story

Driven by Ambition

Story by Gretchen Giles

Read this Story