Grapefruits deliver an Old-World sucker punch

by Ed Halmagyi


I’m no Mr Darcy, that’s for certain. All that dashing about must take a toll on a man, and I’m not sure the cravat would suit me.


To be honest I never really got the whole Jane Austen thing. Her books were the Sex and the City of her age. Stories of over-privileged 30-somethings with too much time on their hands. Time to bemoan their wealth and opportunity. Perhaps it’s the ingrained socialist in me, but I doubt that Elizabeth’s all-consuming romantic dilemma resonates with readers who haven’t enough to eat. Is it the luxury of sorrow, or the sorrow of luxury?


Yet strangely I find myself guilty of both pride and prejudice, when it comes to grapefruits at least.


This funny sour citrus emerged in the Caribbean during the mid-19th century as a hybrid of the local pomelo and the imported orange. Known as the ‘Forbidden Fruit of Barbados’ it became popular as a morning refreshment in the hot tropical climate. In the 1920’s horticulturists in Florida devised the sweeter Ruby Red variety, the first fruit to be awarded a patent. In time other hybrids came to be: the tangelo, the Minneola and the sweetie, all of which are commercially farmed in Australia.


My prejudice has always been against the prevailing sourness of the original grapefruit It is a tooth-jarring, jaw-twitching acidity that leaves me puckered and drooling. How, I wondered, would such a taste appeal?


My pride has been in my refusal to believe that I could not solve (and improve) this widely-grown fruit’s contribution to the culinary arts.


And so I began my own Austen-esque romance with the grapefruit, courting from a distance at first, sipping her juices with considerable reserve. I then showered her with gifts of sugar and offerings of spice to which she responded favourably. It was then that my true love began to blossom. In this plain and simple fruit, the one I’d overlooked in preference of something more rich and exotic, I found the honesty and reliability I’d truly sought all along.


I fell deeply in love.


I still pucker at her merest mention, but this pucker is a prelude to a kiss.


Dear me, what a anti-masculine mess! Could Jane Austen have been right? Perhaps. Still, I draw the line at Sex and the City. I think.



Want a recipe to make the most of grapefruit? Well check this out.

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