Monday, February 14, 2011

Pass The Fruit, Please

My father ate a lot of fruit. As far back as I can remember, not a day went by that he didn’t slice up some fresh fruit in the evenings, after we’d had supper. Most of the time he’d wait until an hour or two had passed since we’d eaten, but sometimes he wouldn’t. Sometimes he’d peel an apple into his empty dinner plate, cut it into pieces and immediately offer me a slice, only me, because I was the only other member of our family that liked fruit just as much.

It was not unusual for him to load up a platter with slices of apples and pears, and occasionally some grapes, and carry it into the living room, along with forks and dessert plates, where we’d all be sprawled out in front of the television. My mother and two brothers hardly ever took a bite, while my father and I devoured it all. After I’d left home, that sweet platter was still offered whenever I visited. And when my two children joined the family, it just gave my father two more reasons to load up a platter with fresh fruit whenever the grandkids dropped by.

Apples were his favourite, by far, although he enjoyed watermelon (which I love), cantaloupe (which I’m so-so about) and honeydew melon (which I prefer over cantaloupe) almost as much, three types of melons that dominated during the warmer months of the year. He munched on peaches and nectarines, but not very often, and definitely nowhere near as much as apples. He didn’t eat bananas or plums, and never tried fruits like avocados, papayas, pineapples or pomegranates, just to name a few. So although he ate fruit every day, year round, he only enjoyed a handful of different types.

My mother didn’t care much for fruits, with the exception of figs, but she liked the idea of them. And she seemed especially keen on the ones that were abundant in summer, like cherries, strawberries, mandarins, oranges and kiwis. She’d bring them home and push them mostly on me, since I was one of the only fruit eaters in the house, and my father wasn’t very particular to her selections. With the exception of the kiwis and oranges, which I like but only once in awhile, I did enjoy the rest of the summer flavours she introduced. So there’s no doubt that I enjoy fruit like my father did, but I also enjoy a wider selection. Not a huge selection, just a few extras. And although I ventured a little further, I wasn’t much more adventurous. I limited myself to the more popular, common fruits for the longest time.

It wasn’t until my older years that I started to ‘eat dangerously’ by daring to try something new. For example, my brother introduced me to mangoes and blackberries after supper one night at his place, just a few short years ago, which is ironic since he doesn’t really like fruit. Up until that evening, I’d never tasted those two delicious treats before, and left his place wondering why in the world I never had. Now both those fruits are regular items on my grocery list.

My husband introduced raspberries and cranberries, two more mouth-watering fruits that leave me wondering why I’m so reluctant to try something outside my comfort zone. Now I stock my fridge – or freezer – with raspberries and cranberries, when they’re in season, and use them in recipes like baked cranberry brie, raspberry pancakes, apple cranberry crisp, raspberry muffins and many more such delights.

But the most wonderful fruit discovery in my adult years was introduced to me by an ex co-worker quite awhile back. She was slicing up some fruit after she’d had lunch, something I’d never seen before, so I asked her what in the world it was. “Try it”, she said, and offered me a piece. I took it and reluctantly took a bite. And as I chewed, my eyes got big and round, and I exclaimed “Good God, this is absolutely delicious. What the heck is it?” “It’s a prickly pear”, she said.

Well that prickly pear has risen to the top of all others; it is my favourite fruit for a few years running. My next fruit-tasting quest will involve the dragonfruit, also known as pitaya, something that I discovered at the supermarket a couple of years ago, but have yet to try. The next time, instead of poking, squeezing and sniffing a dragonfruit like I have been until now, I’ll be daring and bring one home to try. It might just turn out to be another great addition to my list of favourite fruits.

How about you? Do you like eating fruit? What kind?

7 comments:

  1. Well, now you've got me wanting to try a prickly pear!:-) I feel much like your Dad did---I tend to like the more common fruits. Apples and pears, I suppose, are my favorites, probably in part because they grow right in our yard, so I can pick them right off the trees in autumn. I've become quite fond, too, of fruit smoothies, especially in hot weather.

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  2. I love fruit! Most of the time, I eat at least one apple a day (it's just the most convenient fruit to bring to work for my lunch break - hard enough that it doesn't get squashed in my bag, no peeling necessary), but right now, it's grapes. I eat ridiculous amounts of them - sometimes a whole pound in one go.
    Berries of all kinds are lovely too, but they're mostly too expensive for me. Oh how I wish for a garden...
    Pears, bananas, citrus fruits I'm not so fond of, though I'll eat them occasionally.
    Plums and peaches are OK, cherries I love, but again, too expensive.
    Mangoes smell weird - I think they taste OK, but I can't help thinking they smell like an Schefflera arboricola, which is kind of off-putting. Kiwis and pineapple are nice too, but right now I'd rather have grapes.
    Watermelons - some hot summer days, instead of eating dinner, I buy myself one after work and stuff myself with it. Cantaloupes and honeydew melons, on the other hand, I never liked - until I discovered I'd just never tried a truly ripe one. But ripe ones are hard to get, and on the whole, I still prefer watermelon.
    And grapes. I must buy some more grapes tomorrow!

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  3. ... oh dear, what a monster comment!

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  4. Beth, you must try a prickly pear; it is soooo delicious. But wait until they're on sale; they can be terribly expensive at times. I must confess that I have never had a fruit smoothie. Honest!

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    Ivynettle, I'm a fruit lover, too, so I relate. Can't say I'm a big grape lover, but watermelon is a favourite. I often add watermelon as a side dish to my lunch or supper. So refreshing, so sweet and so filling!

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  5. I adore fruit, and often I buy so much of it, that people wonder if I'm pregnant. In winter time I stick to apples, fruit smoothies, oranges and the odd banana, but in the summer, when it's good - it's all fair game. I adore berries the most - raspberries, blueberries, 'real' strawberries, with short season fruit next, the apricots, watermelons, nectarines. I do often make supper out of fruit in the summer, rounded out with some bread and cheese.

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  6. In Greece they say too much Prickly pears and then too much squeezing of the b...tt cheeks for no.2.... Delicious yes... but they are best friends with constipation. They are usually in season here in August and grow widely on open roads... since Greece is full of cactus trees. Yum-Yum.

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  7. Tatiana, I always look forward to the summer seasons, so I can enjoy all those wonderful berries. This year, I hope to do a lot of berry picking. We have a place that's not too far from home that I'd like to check out. Mmmm mmmm...can't wait.

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    That's funny, Hellas, although not a mental picture I want to have early in the morning! Still, I love this fruit.

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