Friday, June 28, 2019

Fruit For Thought


About a hundred years ago when I was in third grade, we used to get The Weekly Reader, a little kid newspaper that we read as a class. Each issue had a Central Idea, and it came jam-packed with all sorts of articles, activities, and corny jokes to keep eight year-olds occupied and enriched.

I don't remember the Central Idea of this particular issue, but I do remember a statement it made that bothered me so much it has stuck with me for lo these 52 years. The article posited that in the very near future, oranges would cease to exist and science would provide us with juice filled disks that tasted like oranges.

Again, I have no context for this dire (and obviously now false) prediction, but I recall feeling very upset and uncomfortable. I liked oranges, and they held a real familial connection for me. My grandparents wintered in Florida every year. If my parents went down, they would bring home oranges that they picked themselves. One of my grandpa's good friends, Jeptha, worked at an orange grove. What would he do? As was always my way back then, I didn't share that story or my worries with anyone. I sat with that concern myself for a long time, thinking and wondering and probably losing sleep over it. I probably stopped eating oranges for a long time, hoping it would help save them--stretch them out and make them last, maybe.

The good news is that my efforts worked! We still have oranges today, in spite of climate change and whatever threatens the citrus crops seemingly every year.

This got me thinking lately: what fruit, if it suddenly disappeared from the face of the Earth, would I generally Be Okay with? I'm not talking about fruits that I don't eat anyway, like dragonfruit and kumquats and durian. I'm talking about everyday fruits that I eat or cook with. Here's my list of

Three Fruits I'm Willing To See Disappear

1. Blueberries
2. Oranges
3. Watermelon

Obviously, I'm going to talk about this list.

1. Blueberries, however healthy they may be, simply do not do it for me. They taste like an old root cellar smells. And heaven forbid you get a mushy one--ugh. They're cute and readily available, but as far as I'm concerned, they can go anytime.

2. I. KNOW! I worried myself sick over Oranges leaving, and now I'm cavalierly bidding them farewell. But, honestly, I don't eat them all that often and I have never been an Orange Juice Drinker. How anyone can drink it in the morning is beyond me. Perhaps my Early Trauma waved me off Oranges so successfully that it ruined my enjoyment of them. Who knows?

3. I can just hear all of you wailing and gnashing your teeth over my banishment of this summertime crowd pleaser, but Watermelon bores me silly. It's also not worth all the effort, much like crab legs. It's a bitch to heft around, store, and butcher. It's messy as hell to eat. And unless you get a seedless one (and sacrifice flavour), you have the annoying seeds to contend with. Forget it. Good riddance.

What fruits are you willing to say sayonara to? And no fair using technicalities to offload your Tomato, Olive, or Cucumber bugaboo.

29 comments:

  1. I remember those weekly readers. How funny that your said that. I am a huge fan of blueberries and love watermelon. Now honeydew melon can leave the planet and I won't bat an eye.

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    1. Meredith--I'll join you in bidding bon voyage to Honeydew Melon. Most people, I'd bet, don't really care about it all that much. It's unreliable, too; often, it has no flavour and is mushy. Its value lies mostly in adding another colour to mixed fruit salads. So, hit the road, Honeydew! I'm with you on this one.

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  2. Nice childhood memory.

    I'd give up apples. I buy them and try to like them but I really don't. I would give up peaches, too, because it's nearly impossible to get good ones. I honestly can't think of any other.

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    1. Jean--It is a rather poignant one for me.

      The only reason I can't give up apples is the same reason I can't give up bananas--I eat them with peanut butter for my lunch. That they are a perfect vehicle for my peanut butter addiction is really the sole reason they can stay.

      I hear you on the peaches, but I'd offer a different perspective: that a perfect peach is so fantastic that it is the major reason to let them stay!

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  3. I remember those weekly readers. I believe all the articles were meant to make young minds go, hmmm.
    I could let go of pineapples and all melons...
    Whole pineapples are too much trouble. I only like pineapple if it comes in a can or in individual servings, but I can still take it or leave it...
    Melons, in the twenty years since I've moved back to my home state I have had one occasion to eat a juicy, tasty cantaloupe; my brother-in-law grew it and hasn't been able to repeat the process.
    Enjoy the fruits of your labor, whatever they may be...
    Have a wonderful Fourth of July...

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    1. Denise--I'm sure you're right about the Weekly Readers inspiring curiosity.

      Pineapples are a bit of work, but I discovered an easy butchering method that makes it way worth it for me. And they are much smaller than watermelons, so for me, they can stay.

      You're so right about finding a good cantaloupe; it's such a hit or miss proposition. And the bad ones are truly a heartbreaker and inedible.

      You have a restful and happy Independence Day as well. It's astonishing that it is already upon us!

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  4. I used to so look forward to the Weekly Reader!

    Admittedly, I am a big-time fruit lover. I guess my fruit would be bananas. I love them, but I am UBER picky about how I like them, ripeness-wise, and they are seldom available as I really like them. Which is disappointing, but I guess if they disappeared, I would never have to deal witht he disappointment ...

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    1. Bridget--I liked the fact that we could keep our Weekly Readers.

      I considered bananas immediately. But then, I thought about banana bread, and I could not let them go. I make a really delicious peanut butter banana bread, and that was the dealbreaker.

      I'm also a peanut butter fanatic as of late, and I eat bananas with peanut butter for lunch once in a while. Not on a sandwich or anything, just the fruit and the spread.

      You're right about the ripeness issue--there is such a small window when they are perfect. But then...banana bread!

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  5. My parents believed that my health depended on fresh squeezed orange juice with pulp and a dollop of cod liver oil being administered every morning. I learned to hate pulp and the texture of most fruit ... with you on the blueberries.
    On the other hand, I am taller than both my parents.

    So, where is the banana peanut butter recipe? I am drooling on my keyboard.

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    1. Mary G--Your parents are vindicated in their Healthful Regimen beliefs by your robust height. LOL.

      Thanks for backing me up on Blueberries. It's not a popular stance.

      I'm happy to email you the recipe for peanut butter banana bread, which is not healthful at all. Look for it soon! So nice to see you here again.

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    2. I have the recipe, thank you so much. The YD is home for a short vacation and she is going to drool on the printout.And local strawberries are in season.
      ps, Grandkid just passed me AND her mother in height. On blueberries and any other fruit that cannot outrun her. (She was 5th in the 400 at the Ontario High School finals..)

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    3. Mary G--We never did have a strawberry season here in NEO. Maybe it's coming...I hope so. It's already a month late! Goodness, height runs in your family, no pun intended (LOL). Bravo to your grand's achievement!

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  6. I'm laughing because I ate watermelon & blueberries as a snack about 20 minutes ago - ha! However, I'm with you on how annoying it is to deal with a watermelon - such a mess! And yes, this one isn't the most fabulous. The blueberries on the other hand were handpicked by someone at the office & were delicious! I like blueberries on oatmeal (as the only sweetener) & in salads.

    I could go without apples I guess even though I LOVE them. Something about apples makes me SO HUNGRY after eating them, completely defeating the whole purpose (other than their tastiness - especially the Jonathan apples I used to get just north of Yellow Springs - tart & sweet & fabulous). OK, maybe I'll keep apples. Grapes on the other hand are a total disappointment - I've spent hundreds of dollars on grapes in the last year & maybe ONE bag of them was good. Ugh. Also, any cherry that isn't a Bing may go away.

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    1. Bug--You go ahead and enjoy as much of the watermelon and blueberries as you want. You can have my share.

      I love Granny Smith apples, and with peanut butter they are my favourite lunch. Other than that, I could wave them away. I'm no fan of apple pie or apple crisp, and I don't drink cider.

      Without grapes there would be no wine, so we need grapes. But table grapes, yes, you're right--there are very few times I buy them to eat and am pleased. A good Bing cherry is such a pleasure. They're in the grocery stores now, and my sister (a big, big fan) is in heaven.

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  7. Crab legs are too worky? You need good Dungeness Crab legs, they are bigger and sweeter than Maryland type crab legs. I will tell you that last year in France, when we were staying right on the coast, I ordered crab that was incredibly disappointing. And expensive. Bummer.

    I would give up Mangos and blackberries, because I don’t like either of them. Ted and Maya would be heartbroken, but I would be fine. Also with you guys on Honeydew. I love a good cantaloupe, but again, difficult to find. And I absolutely adore a good apricot. But I bite into one and it is too hard, and the next is too far gone. I think I need to watch them and not leave the house.

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    1. J@jj--Any crab legs. It's just too worky. I'd rather have them plop a bunch of pre-picked crab down on the plate, ready for me to swirl in melted butter. Why must I labour for my dinner, and at a restaurant to boot? Ridiculous.

      I will gladly take all of your refused mangos. I like blackberries, but they are not very common here, so I have not formed an attachment to them. Ditto apricots, although we once went apricot picking in Kamloops, Canada, while we were on vacation and got very big, very good apricots. But that was more than forty years ago.

      Yes, do babysit your apricots, as I do my avocados. Worth it when they peak.

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  8. Oh geeze! So many school memories with Weekly Readers (which I LOVED, along with Highlights too - my parents finally subscribed to that for us). We eat a TON of fruit, so this is a tough question. Maybe mangoes - I do enjoy them, but you need a whole lot of dental floss after consuming one. Melons have all been a huge disappointment in recent years. Honeydew used to be my favorite, but I haven't had a good one in decades. I love watermelon, but it seems to be tasteless...as do peaches, nectarines, plums, etc. My question is: have my taste buds aged? Or have fruits really diminished in character over the years?

    I do love crab legs (and crab), but always want someone else to pick it for me (I'm lazy like that).

    And another call for the banana peanut butter bread, please!!

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    1. Vera--I found Highlights to be the only thing to make waiting in various waiting rooms palatable. Lucky you, with a subscription!

      You raise such a good question about the nature of fruit vs. our aging tastebuds. I am having the same problem! I do know that there is a big trend toward more efficient fruit-growing. Trees are now trellised and lots of fruits are hybridized to be disease-resistant and to encourage high-yields. Perhaps that is affecting the taste. I also know that my own sense of taste is getting a little capricious.

      I'll email you the recipe for the bread soon. Happy to share!

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  9. A very large part of the reason we bought this house, is for the mini orange grove beyond our back fence. It's HOA owned, so I get all the amazing orange blossoms smell twice a year, and none of the upkeep. And if oranges can (and do) thrive here in our Arizona desert summers, I don't suspect they'll be disappearing in our lifetimes.

    But I totally agree with you on both watermelon and blueberries. LOL

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    1. Silver Willow--Oranges in Arizona! Who knew? I can only imagine the heavenly smell of orange blossoms--what a bonus.

      I'm not the only one with watermelon and blueberries! Glad to hear it.

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  10. And oh my goodness, you misunderstanding about the oranges reminds me of a film we saw in school when I was in 1st grade. A little Inuit boy (we lived in Alaska at the time) with an ear infection, and the narrator saying how he needs to tell his parents, so he can go to the doctor. That it is important, because ear infections untreated can cause deafness. Which I heard as DEATHNESS, and assumed that meant they could kill you. Which I suppose any untreated infection can, if you do not have a strong enough immune system, but DEATHNESS was not what they were discussing. I was absolutely terrified of ear infections for years.

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    1. J@jj--I'm glad I didn't share that experience; I'd have been in severe trauma. I had multiple ear infections as a child, at least one or two a year. Good heavens! You poor thing!

      For little kids, worries like that are huge. And they make such an impact. You and I still remember these things so many years later. Who knows why we personalized those particular things so much at the time?

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  11. I am a fruit lover and the only fruit I can think of not eating is grapefruit. In fact, my mouth is puckering just typing the word. I could live without starfruit and guava since I use them so seldom. I am something of a purist when it comes to my fruits. I prefer local if possible, vine ripened, and no wax on the apples or pears. It must be "in season." For example, I would not buy melons in the dead of winter since I live in the northern hemisphere. I enjoy such a variety that missing one or more fruits is not a problem. I like pomegranates but don't buy them often since they are. I love good oranges, but like many others have said, it's difficult to determine how good they are. It seems their sweetness is inversely proportional to the amount I purchase. If I buy one or two, they are the most delicious but if I buy a bag of them they are sure to be tart. I've been known to buy a couple, bring them home and if I find they are sweet, go back to the grocery store to pick up more of them.

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    1. Should have added "ly" to the seldom in the third sentence. And in reference to pomegranates, I don't buy them because they are so difficult to eat and impossible to determine ripeness. (That's what you get when you are too distracted by a two-year-old.)

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    2. NCmountainwoman--I appreciate grapefruit in salads, but to sit and eat one, I have to use sugar, and that seems wrong, so I don't buy them, as a rule. Pomegranates are a fruit puzzle to me; how are they worth it when the seed is the main part of the fruit? Ick.

      My grocery store does not wax its fruit, for which I am grateful.

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  12. Mango (too much work), mamey sapota could fall off the face of the earth and I would never miss it. It's a fruit we got in Florida. The internet says it is a mix of pumpkin/sweet potato flavor with a pudding like texture. I'll boil it down for you ................it is freaking AWFUL!

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    1. Dee--I will gladly do all the mango work you dislike. For me, the payoff is worth it. I use the hedgehog method, and it's not bad at all.

      I had never heard of the mamey sapote before, so I did a little research and even watched a short video. One person described its flavour as being "like carrot cake." It's interesting enough that I'd like to try it someday, but I have never, ever seen it offered. It's definitely a tropical thing, and I cannot imagine NEO's grocery stores stocking them. Of course, Amazon has them! Thanks for making me a little smarter today.

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  13. I remember The Weekly Reader. I adored them because I felt so grown-up reading articles in them. As for answering your question: 1) kiwi, 2) blackberries, & 3) honeydew melon. Don't like 'em, don't need 'em, don't want 'em.

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    1. Ally Bean--I like kiwis and blackberries, but rarely eat either. They could indeed disappear and I'd not really feel the void. Honeydew melon is such a waste of food. It really has no taste. I think I mentioned before that most people buy it to put in a fruit salad to add another colour, period. Give me a good, ripe peach any day.

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Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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