I admit that I am developing a love affair with grapefruit. Don’t get me wrong — I love many types of fruit. But there’s something particularly special about the grapefruit, particularly ruby red grapefruit. Looking at the following image, can anyone really blame me?
I’m not sure if I can even pinpoint exactly why I like grapefruit so much. First of all, it’s a fruit that a lot of people dislike. Each of my four kids dislikes grapefruit, which is fine. When I give a section to my 19 month-old baby, she puts it briefly in her mouth and then hands the grapefruit back to me, barely chewed.
My wife has better taste. Enamored with grapefruit juice and pulp, she slices grapefruit in half and squeezes it into diet Mountain Dew. If I dice the grapefruit into little squares, I’ll add about a tablespoon of sugar on top, but for the most part, I just peel and eat grapefruit in sections.
I particularly love eating grapefruit in the morning, as it tends to make me feel alive and full of energy. Many days I will eat two grapefruit in one day — though keeping a stockpile of grapefruit to last a whole week can be difficult. The grapefruit we buy from Costco are larger than softballs. And a couple of weeks ago, my wife brought home — I kid you not — some volleyball-size grapefruit.
Eating a grapefruit just feels healthy. You know that you could eat grapefruit all day long, as many as you can consume, without worrying about the calories or fat content. In contrast, just 13 cheeto puffs is about 160 calories. In short, you could eat two grapefruit for the same caloric content as 18 cheeto puffs. Who in their right mind would choose the cheetos?
Sure, Cheetos may give you a temporary agent-orange high, which wears off nearly as soon as the Cheeto dissolves, but the grapefruit is like opening your mouth and letting a fresh river run through your body. If you leave some of the white pith, the zinginess wakes you up. It’s almost like consuming caffeine. It keeps you awake and alert.
One drawback in eating grapefruit is that, admittedly, it’s messy. Not as messy as a mango, of course. (No fruit is messier than a mango.) But after peeling a grapefruit, it leaves a filmy residue on my hands. The residue doesn’t come off easily, even with soap or hand sanitizer. Still, the grapefruit is worth it.
After you peel a grapefruit, the sections you pull off don’t always come off cleanly, like with oranges. As a result, many of the sections tear off, showing the pulpy long strands inside. The strands are so pink, so full of juice. I often just stare at these open-faced sections with a certain awe and anticipation, especially as the juicy strands catch the light.
You may think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. I am completely serious about grapefruit. It is the most underrated fruit of all fruits. Apples are too crunchy. Oranges too small. Bananas too soft and plain. Strawberries wither and dry up too easily. Nectarines never ripen. Peaches have too much fuzz. Grapes are too monotonous. Nothing really compares to the grapefruit. Just heft one in your hand a bit and you feel a respect for it, out of its sheer size and bulk. It is a fruit that dwarfs other fruit.
Sometimes after I split open the fruit inside, rather than peeling off sections, I just sink my teeth into the side of it, suck out the juice, and then bite off a chunk. The grapefruit is so big that you can just make your way through the fruit this way — without creating a huge mess. You can also slurp the juice, if you have a really ripe one.
I guess another reason I like grapefruit has to do with its general rejection by so many other people. It’s cool to eat a fruit that other people dislike. And not just eat it, but to savor it like it’s the most succulent, delicious fruit on earth, and wonder why other people can’t also share in its divine taste.
I mentioned that my favorite way to prepare grapefruit is to cut it into little squares and spread it across a plate, lightly sprinkling with sugar. This method removes some of the pith, which makes the experience sweeter. You can also mix the fruit in with other types of fruit as well, such as bananas and tangerines (pictured below). This whole platter of fruit is only about 200 calories, and it fills you up for hours.
Some people (for example, in Costa Rica) cook grapefruit, which removes the sourness. They combine the cooked grapefruit with dulce de leche to create stuffed grapefruit. I admit I’ve not yet tried this, but I plan to (as soon as I get some dulce de leche). It’s a testament to the versatility of any fruit when you can prepare it in more than a dozen ways.
Grapefruit has a rich history of medicinal purposes as well. Read through this wikipedia entry on grapefruit. Apparently grapefruit can prolong life (through its “spermadine”), inhibit certain hormone enzymes that process estrogen, battle fungus, and interact with other drugs to increase their bioavailability. It’s interesting to see the effect of this fruit on so many areas of the body. It evinces its power.
Naysayers against grapefruit will continue. They will rant and rave with utter disgust about grapefruit’s bitter, sour flavor — instead praising the sweetness of the divine orange instead. To these anti-grapefruit people, I say your tastebuds have been perverted by the over-abundance of high-fructose corn syrup and sugar in everything. Does everything have to be sweet? Do we need high fructose corn syrup in every single food item we consume, so much that without a heavy dose of sweet, we feel that something natural is bitter?
The less sugar I eat, the sweeter grapefruit tastes. Eating grapefruit provides a barometer for my taste buds, helping me realize that the more bitter grapefruit tastes, the more my tastebuds have been transformed.
I hope grapefruit and I will have a long life together — at least until another fruit takes grapefruit’s place. (Not likely.)
Next up on the food posts: “Spinach, how I love your round green leaves.”