Presentation doesn't always enhance grapefruit's appeal


Eating grapefruit is like working out. It is something you say you are going to do more of, starting tomorrow, or maybe the day after.

Tomorrow has arrived in my life. It came in the form of a cardboard box that sits on the kitchen floor and holds 240,000 grapefruit.

That number is a guess. A more accurate count would be available if I could see the bottom of the pile. For the time being all I can see is a mountain of grapefruit, about as tall and as unchanging as Mount Everest.

I meant to say a mountain of "delicious" grapefruit. That is how I refer to the grapefruit now whenever I try to coax family members or passers-by to wolf down some of the fruit. No longer, for instance, do I ask "Would you like some grapefruit for ++ breakfast?" I stopped doing that about a half dozen rejections ago. Now, I ask, "How about something delicious for breakfast?" Usually the response comes back: "Not if it is grapefruit." Sometimes I change my line of attack to "How about putting a delicious grapefruit in your bag as ballast?"

Grapefruit is a hard sell. I am not entirely sure why. Sure it is messy. When you eat it with your fingers, its juices make your hands sticky. But the same thing could be said about oranges. And my family cleaned out the big box of oranges that we bought along with the box of grapefruit, from the parents' club at the kids' school. Grapefruit has an enticing aroma. I think somebody should bottle it as a perfume or a cologne, and call it "eau de delicious grapefruit."

I can testify that "eau de delicious grapefruit" would be a scent with a powerful animal appeal. If fruit flies count as animals, that is. I know this because one of the ways I have been attacking the grapefruit glut has been to lug a few to the office and eat them for lunch at my desk.

I am here to tell you that when you peel a grapefruit, you draw a crowd. It is a crowd of fruit flies, but it is a crowd nonetheless.

The other morning I trotted out a couple of "different looks" for grapefruit. I did this because experts say that how a dish is "presented" at the table has a lot to do with how well it is accepted. So, instead of just slicing the grapefruit in half, I sliced them every which way.

First I tried removing all the offending parts, like the skin, pith and membranes. To peel the skin I sliced off both ends of the fruit. This gave the fruit flat ends, and kept it from squirming on the cutting board as the knife then removed the skin and the white pith underneath it.

Now the only offending part left was the white membrane sitting in the middle of the fruit. To remove it I cut the skinned fruit into four thick crosswise slices. Then I cut each slice in half exposing white membrane which I ceremoniously removed.

When all the slicing had stopped, I had a bowl filled with perfect grapefruit flesh. For me it was a stirring sight, even early in the morning. But when I put the plate of gleaming grapefruit flesh in the middle of the kitchen table, no one touched it.

I figured that maybe the grapefruit suffered from the perfect-flesh syndrome, said to afflict some gorgeous movie stars. Namely, they are so good-looking that no one touches them because no one knows where to put their hands.

I tossed out the perfect flesh, and I tried a "down home look" for the grapefruit. This time I kept the peel on. I cut the grapefruit into four crosswise slices. Then I cut each slice into quarters, and cut away the top of the quarter, which was the offensive white membrane.

What I ended up with was a bite of good-looking, easy-to-grab grapefruit. Each bite came with its own handle, its skin.

They looked like juicy Doritos. I grabbed a couple of them by the skin, and chomped down on the flesh. Not bad. I pushed a plateful at a couple of meandering 12-year-olds. They sniffed and said. "No thanks." If it wasn't fried or salted, they were not interested.

An 8-year-old who wandered into the kitchen took one bite but reported the flavor was "too sour" to venture further. So I'm back at the drawing board, trying to come up new ways to get rid of old grapefruit. I am considering cutting them in half and sprinkling them with brown sugar and rum, heating them in the oven until the sugar bubbles.

Or I could take the old fashioned approach. I could shove the stuff on the table and say : "Eat this. If it tastes bad, that means it is good for you."

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