My current obsession is grapefruit. Its tart, juicy goodness calls my name, morning and night. My habit is to peel the grapefruit like an orange, and eat it section by section.
One evening I started in on half a fruit that I’d peeled the day before and couldn’t finish. The skin surrounding the pulp had dried and shrunk, tightening down around the pulp. The skin seemed to thicken a bit as well, but when I peeled off a section from the rest, it came away easily, and when I bit into it, I heard (and felt) a light popping as the dry skin was punctured, splitting like old parchment and scattering tiny particles of pith dust into the air around my face. This grapefruit was effervescent and playful, toying with me like a fairy does (you know how those fairies are, don’t you?).
This struck me as an entirely different grapefruit than I was used to, and I began to contemplate all the other grapefruits I had encountered in my life:
- The just-peeled grapefruit with its thin moist membrane of skin encapsulating each section’s juicy pulp inside, which can be seen through its transparent cover but encountered directly only during mastication. This grapefruit is a well-rounded grapefruit, happy to share its emotions but aware of appropriate boundaries;
- The halved grapefruit, its pulp cut through in cross-section. Because the rind remains intact, the pulp stays compressed and the juice rises to the top so that one can drink it like soup. This grapefruit is the most vulnerable grapefruit, with its insides cut open for all to see and prepped for attack by a sharp spoon;
- The quartered, or sixthed, or eighthed grapefruit, easiest of all to eat, just cut it and plop it in your mouth, separating it from the rind with your teeth. If cut in the traditional manner with the cuts parallel to the long axis of the segments, the little vesicles inside are stripped for maximum view. This is the exhibitionist grapefruit, and also the toughest, but perhaps not the most resilient, as its toughness depends on the rind’s continuous support.
My contemplations leave me wondering where the identity of this grapefruit really lies and my culpability in creating grapefruit identity in the act of choosing how to eat the fruit.