Along with crow there has been an inordinate amount of citrus fruit being shucked and consumed over the past few weeks in this dainty household. Approximately 6 navel oranges, a sanguine colored one, 4 Clementines, 2 grapefruits, and one can of mandarin oranges. On paper the evidence is hard to ignore, I have polished off the equivalent of a medium sized over-priced fruit basket from the Sunshine State all the while considering myself indifferent to this entire food group, really indeed.
I think the root of this life long sometimes chilly reception has been the contemptible red delicious apple and possibly partially the banana of my youth. Either/or, both, and on occasion grapes have been served up, saddled alongside and indelibly printed upon an unsuspecting sandwich. Healthy “dessert” riddled with seeds, mealy mouthful complete with waxy rind, or bruised flabby fruit. Any way you sliced it from beginning to end, it added up to be destroyer of school kid lunch and therefore justifiably bullied at the bottom of the rubbish bin.
If it weren’t enough, in addition to ruining a good named sandwich, and simultaneously being too delicate for its own good, fruit seemed to be code for sensible, wholesome, and boring. No time for breakfast, need a snack, hungry, restless… a tad antsy? Any adult worth their age would assuredly plunk down a piece of fruit with the authority of the final word while any child younger than ten would certainly balk. And almost never would a truce be drawn with the playful exchange of Hostess Twinkies or the like, not in my world anyways.
Down yonder past the age of ten and with a diet leaning heavily on the vegetal side, I have carried my fruit folly far too long and wide. It isn’t that I never partake in the stuff. I adore pies, crumbles, strawberry ice cream, and especially fruit cake. But the other half of this truth is that I find the lot of them too precious, roving towards rot, and winsomely seductive yet too often crushingly vapid inside. I confess in these matters I gravitate towards substance preferring handsome to pretty, reliable to capricious, savory to dimply sweet, the turn of the earth to the gossamer loft of sky.
So it is quite by accident and good fortune that I have taken the fork in the road. Somewhere in my wasteland I noticed that a friend of mine was always eating pre-peeled grapefruit in a cup which meandered into a conversation about the price of convenience. While I initially thought it odd to pay twice as much (I am serious and cheap) for something as easy to do such as segmenting citrus, I began to relax into J’s obvious pleasure in this simple luxury. And as if by osmosis, soon I wanted to be pampered by pamplemousse.
I want to take off my corset of seriousness, be unbridled, happy and free. I want to stop laboriously describing my meals in terms of how and where it is grown, not think about fat grams and fiber, food pyramids and serving sizes. I want to eat unencumbered by information and luxuriate simply in the senses. By Jove I want fruit ambrosia! Here in New England where daily we unbury our homes from blankets of snow, nervously salt slabs of ice, and bound our limbs in high performance fleece- bodies need rich fuel in the form of stews, biscuits, and bakes. But some levity is needed if we are going to make it through until April.
I suggest for starters, naked slippery fruit. Imagine lying back upon a divan while being hand fed peeled grapes, figs, and other succulent dainties. I assure you no one will be thinking about the strains which come about from shoveling driveways. Instead the instant explosion of sun, life, and flavor will play upon the tongue, vivid immediacy rewarded by labored efforts to skin bland membranes surrounding each jeweled segment. Smiling perk of citrus against the cool hand of cream, golden goo of honey graced by the tropical kiss of coconut. Daily digs into this food for the gods and I am beginning to feel immortal. Maybe cushy, hedonistic splendor isn’t such a frivolous thing, but an ingenious survival imperative. Move over vegetables?
Sunshine Ambrosia for J
1 grapefruit peeled and de-membraned
2 navel oranges peeled and de-membraned
1 blood orange peeled and de-membraned
1 can of mandarin segments
Directions: Obviously one can use any fruit that one is partial to. I like the idea of sticking with veils of citrus flavor. The key thing is peeling the membranes since the succulent crush of pulp against tongue is really something to experience and the ultimate in luxury. Place all prepared fruit into a bowl and carefully mix, if desired sprinkle with pomegranate seeds or some other pop of color like dried cherries. Serve in individual bowls with a dollop of yogurt, drizzle of honey, some coconut and mint.