Amazing Alabaster

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These Mexican treasures are made like their Italian cousins, but using leftover pieces of alabaster instead of marble. Another difference: Their appearance veers more toward magical realism than exact replicas. “They tend to be cartoony and kind of pop,” says Karch. “What’s great is you get all these tropical fruits you don’t find in Italy: mangoes, papayas, little bananas.”

Much of the alabaster fruit in this country made its way here as tourist keepsakes (they can still be found in Mexico), but in the ‘50s, options were also available in U.S. housewares shops. “They were big as centerpieces in your dining room or kitchen, or on a coffee table,” says Karch. “It was the fantasy of having a pile of scrumptious fruit off-season.”

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