Sunday, December 6, 2009

More Precious Than Rubies

This morning I had the most exquisite breakfast - my first ruby red grapefruit of the season. Maybe it's because I haven't had grapefruit in ages or maybe it's because I was really hungry, but this grapefruit was the best I have ever eaten. Purchased at Whole Foods and certified both local and organically grown, this grapefruit was ugly on the outside. It was mottled with black freckles; a bit shriveled. I didn't expect a tremendous amount from it, but my, was I fooled. I didn't even know I liked grapefruit this much. Now I can't wait to get my hands on several more.

Its brazen redness shocked me. This was a very, deep red grapefruit, maybe only a blush or two away from a blood orange, and it was fragrant. Slicing through the zest released a fiesta of perfumed oils and I just love the smell of citrus. It's so bright and uplifting. So is the flavor.

Each time I take my first taste of a grapefruit I cringe a little inside, in anticipation of some imagined, awful bitterness I think it might possess. This is a leftover reflex from my childhood. I remember my grandfather, lover of all bitter, horrible foods from black licorice to mince pie, being a huge fan of white grapefruits. He always tried to get me to eat them and my mouth automatically puckers and stings thinking about how they tasted - hard, sour and bitter as cough medicine. I couldn't stand them even with a snowdrift of white sugar on top. As I grew up I came to like (with a lingering apprehension) the occasional pink grapefruit. The pink varieties are sweeter and honestly, I just like things that are pink. How can you not like pink food? Pink is pretty.

Today's grapefruit was not so much pink as ruby. It was sweet and rich, perfumed and with a hint of bitterness at the end which was pleasant instead of medicinal. Think arugula. Bitter for amateurs. Enough to add balance and depth but not enough to overpower the other flavors.

I loved this grapefruit. It was so perfect, so seasonal, so right here and now. While I ate it, I was glad to be right where I am, here in Florida at the beginning of December, the start of citrus season. I loved its simplicity. Who needs a $45.00 brunch with Belgian waffles and omelet stations when you can have a fruit, pulled off a tree and sliced in half?

Run to the store and take advantage of our beautiful Florida citrus. Be careful if you're on medication though. There are several medications that specify that you must not eat grapefruit while on them. Grapefruit has something mysterious in it that interacts dangerously with some medicines.

Here is a list of some lovely, sophisticated recipes using grapefruit. I notice that many of them pair grapefruit and avocado and I find this intriguing. I can see how they would go perfectly together. How do you like to eat grapefruit?

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