Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 186: Grape Expectations

When I was a kid, my dad liked to eat certain foods while watching TV: mostly peanuts, whose shells he would deposit in a plastic grocery bag, but also grapes. I mostly remember him eating green grapes, but I know there were red grapes, too. I was a bit of a snack mooch (I always liked to quote the old Disney TV show The Torkelsons: Whatcha got there, Boarder Hodges?) and I liked to hope or pretend that I would grow up to have Dad's amazing twig-thin metabolism (which, of course, I didn't) and be able to snack in front of the TV every day, which at the time seemed like the height of luxury.

On grape nights, though, it was not so luxurious. For one reason or another, I never took a shine to grapes. Maybe it's because they were fruit (in the kid thesaurus, synonymous with yuck). As I got older, I pinpointed it to a textural issue: I didn't like food that exploded in your mouth (which seemed to be the main reason most people liked grapes). I took to peeling them, for a time, which proved too laborious. Often, the red grapes tasted a little rotten (what most people would call too sweet, but I associated sweetness with processed sugar, not plant matter) and the green grapes were a little too tart. So grapes were marginal.

Of course, then I married a grape eater. A thrifty grape eater. A man who buys fruit seasonally, which generally means at its cheapest, which means that though I want Granny Smith apples year-round, he goes for things like grapes, most recently black grapes, which I had never (to my recollection) tasted before.

Here's how Ian described black grapes after eating a handful: not as sweet as red, not as tart as green. Part of me thought, Wow, they must not have any flavor. But than I tried them and realized that these are the ideal grapes. They're like grape juice grapes, the flavor the candies are modeled after. I've eaten cups of them, without any coercion, just for an afternoon snack. I bet you could make a savory sauce from them and serve it with meat (maybe black grapes and wine, with some spice in there). I bet they would be good in salad. Maybe a black grape granita. Or simply straight off the vine.

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