I was walking by the kitchen counter yesterday and caught a whiff of something that grabbed my attention real fast. I looked over and there was this gorgeous ripe grapefruit sitting there. I went over, picked it up, brought it to my nose and gave it a big sniff. I was instantly transported like some magic carpet ride back to my youth when we visited my grandparents in Florida.
Wow, what an intense sensation! I asked my wife to give it a smell and asked her what she thought. “Smells like a nice ripe grapefruit,” she replied. I repeated this act with both my kids and they gave the same reply and looked at me with that look I often get when talking to them about food. I wondered why they didn’t have the same reaction I did but then none of them had the same experiences I did growing up in the 60’s.
When I was my about girls’ age we used to drive down to Florida around Easter to visit my grandparents. They lived just outside of Miami, oh I wish I could remember what town they were in, and we would stay in Miami Beach at one of those tacky motels off Ocean Avenue. I think one of the motels was called Safari and or maybe The Thunderbird.
Back at my grandparents, there were coconut trees, a couple of banana trees that grew little finger bananas, a few orange trees and then a couple of grapefruit trees that gave off the most wonderful fragrance. To this day when I pick up a ripe grapefruit I immediately go right back to my grandparent’s backyard.
Some mornings when visiting, my grandfather would take me out back and help me pick a few grapefruit and a bunch of oranges for breakfast. He would hold me up so I could pluck one off the lower branches.
We would take them into the kitchen where he would squeeze the juice from the oranges with one of those old fashion non-electric metal orange juice presses. He took his time and was meticulous about getting every last drop of juice from the pulp.
For the grapefruit, he had a special grapefruit knife that was curved to separate the flesh from the skin. The kitchen would fill up with an aroma of fresh oranges and grapefruit that still lingers with me to this day. I’d help my grandmother make pancakes or eggs and we would sit down to a big breakfast but not until I devoured my half of grapefruit and drank a big glass of fresh OJ.
And I can share this memory with all of you. Next time you are in the supermarket, head on over to the fresh produce section, pick up a nice ripe ruby red grapefruit and give it a smell. If it is really fresh, you too can share my childhood memory back in Florida at my grandparent’s backyard.
Isn’t it great how food works this way?