I have never been one of those people who believes that grapefruit can only be eaten with a spoon, cut in two at the equator and sprinkled with sugar. I don’t have the time or patience for this kind of operation. I much prefer to consume it like a messy orange, leaning over the sink, oblivious to the drips running down my left cheek and the pith under my fingernails until the fruit is just a tasty, tart memory.

I peel it the way my mom taught me, cutting off the northern and southern most tips and then scoring the peel so it is divided into quadrants. The four pieces of skin come off easily after that. She learned this technique in Mrs. Downey’s (mandatory for all girls in 1959) home economics class in 7th grade. It was the only skill that stuck.

When I was in college, the dining hall would put out pale grapefruit halves in the morning along side the unripe melon and cottage cheese in the salad bar. They were saran-wrapped into bowls, a maraschino cherry stuck into the center. I have no memory of ever eating them.

My parents spent a year and a half in Chicago in the late 70’s, managing to live through two of the coldest winters the windy city had had in the last 100 years. When the temperature reached 19 below with a wind chill of 79 below, my mom declared that there had to be better places to raise children. I was born the next year in Los Angeles. Throughout those winters, she ate grapefruit everyday, craving anything that would help her remember places where layers of down and wool were not necessary for survival. She ate those grapefruit like oranges too, getting strange looks from the other teachers at the Montessori school where she was doing her student teaching.

I’ve always wondered who decided that grapefruit was to be eaten cut into halves, with a spoon. Who declared that it was only appropriate for morning meals? I encourage you all to reclaim this unsung member of the citrus family along with me. Peel them, break them into segments and enjoy.

0 thoughts on “Grapefruit

  1. namoli brennet

    Hey – I met your fab sister when we were both playing at a club in Phoenix, and found your blog while cruising around her website. But we were talking about Grapefruit here – I just ate 1/2 of one this morning, embarassed to say it was in very much the traditional manner, but tomorrow I may try something wildly different. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂


  2. Ellen

    I love grapefruit and while I do the “halves” thing (but w/o the sugar – ugh), I’ll eat peeled sections. And Nifty Fifty’s (among other places) made GREAT fresh squeezed unsweetened GF juice.

    I need to find me some fruit now!

  3. Katey Schultz

    how synchonous – i ate a grapefruit for breakfast this morning – orange style. and it was organic, so a far cry from those ones we used to see at whitman. this is a sweet little post – again, cookbook worthy.

  4. albert

    oh how i dislike grapefruit. my parents used to always get me to eat it. i had it at different points of growing up to see if my tastes had changed to like it. never did. blech.

  5. Marisa

    Namoli-thanks for stopping by. My sister’s pretty amazing, isn’t she!

    Isadora-I am definitely a fan of the pink ones. The yellow ones are a little to puckery for me.

    Albert-sorry to hear grapefruit don’t do it for you!

  6. howard

    I love all variety of grapefruit, except rotten. And when I was young, I used to try to eat them like peeled oranges, but my mother discouraged that practice (in a move that may have had more to do with housekeeping logistics than anything else).

    I guess I’ve just gotten used to the organic bowl method of grapefruit consumption in the ensuing years. Though now that you mention it, I may have to revert to the deviant impulses of my youth…

  7. Jamie

    I just ate my grapefruit with a spoon, but I love to eat a drippy peach over the sink, I can see where you are coming from.

  8. Sandra

    Have you tried ruby red grapefruit? Oooh it’s so good and no sugar needed b/c it’s already sweet. I’m thinking some grapefruit will be bought this week at the grocery. 🙂

    Oh, and I also eat it standing over the sink! LOL

  9. Neil

    Growing up, my mother used to serve a grapefruit every night at the table right before dinner — always with that marashino cherry in the center (she still does sometimes, but without the cherry because of Red Dye #2 scare). I always found it odd, but this must have been what was considered “classy” in the early sixties — having a fruit as an appetizer — and it became a tradition.


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