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After having a mild stroke each time my boyfriend brought home the wrong type of fruit, I created an index card for him to take to the shops. (His solution was for me to go instead — be the sole fruit winner of the family — but this is not realistic.) And so, the extensive guide below was born.
- Yellow stone fruits are literally summer, if summer swooped itself into fruit form, and so you must pick them always from a fruit line-up and smoosh them into your face.
2. Pick the yellow peach that looks like a sunset with its red, orange, and pink coat skin, peel it off with your teeth. Sink them into unripened sunflower-coloured flesh. Wait for the crack — because yes, they’re better hard! Soft is messy and only permitted when nothing harder exists or when you have forgotten them at the bottom of a fridge drawer.
3. Always opt for the unripened yellow nectarine, the one that is red with flecks of yellow, it’s the Spanish flag. It should be as hard as the ball on a pool table, knock ’em out.
4. DO NOT BUY THE WHITE PEACH OR THE WHITE NECTARINE EQUIVALENT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. These literally taste like nothing. You could open your mouth like a goldfish and the air would taste the same as a bland white peach. Do not eat nothing. Do not waste this moment. Why is it white? Who segregated this fruit? I will never eat it.
5. The mango is perfect in that it is always yellow and if it’s not, I don’t want to hear about it. The mango’s only flaw, and it’s a minor one, is the effort it sometimes takes to undress the mango, carve it up in a way that makes sense, and find its way to the mouth. This is an easy thing to rectify with a knife or with teeth, a plate or napkin and always, always when it is ripe enough that the juice smothers every inch of you, the couch, the floor around you, the utensils, the kitchen, the person next to you, the baby, the whole house. It is sticky and sometimes tastes chemical, a sharp, crisp pang, like fresh linen after it’s been washed by an aloe vera fabric softener. This one is for the thrill seekers, the wanderlust among us, a mirage in the desert.
6. Grapes of wrath are always green. Green grapes are war crimes. They are almost always soft and mushy, like a dead arm after it has been punched, limp and lifeless, squishy. Green grapes are just the uncooked eggs of white wine and should not be wasted on a fruit platter where it has no business being.
7. Light red and firm seedless grapes after they’ve been in the fridge so long they’re crisp and crunchy. My oh my what beauty lay in thine purple hue? Red grapes can get it. The first of their name, breaker of chains and stems, Queen of the Andals and the first grapes. Crisp, hard red grapes deserve their place in the canon of being fed to rich people while sitting on a throne and being fanned by a giant feather. So light and airy, so cool on the tongue.
8. Do not eat big soft round purple grapes with seeds. Do not do that to yourself. You are a baby who can’t eat seeds. When you bite into the grape, a liquid should not come out, this is not porn. (Number 7 is, however, porn. Please keep up.)
9. HOW DO WE PLUM? HOW, YOU ASK? PLUMS. SO COMPLEX. SO MANY OPTIONS. NEGATORY. THERE IS ONLY ONE OPTION AND IT IS THE UNRIPENED BLOOD PLUM. The Samsuma plum. LISTEN TO ME. IT IS LIGHT PURPLE WITH TINY GREEN SPECKS LIKE THE FLICKERS OF GRASS sprayed with a burst of water ON A MISTY MORNING. IT MUST BE FIRM. YOU BITE INTO IT. THIS IS LIVING. SWEET BLOOD RED COLOUR REVEALED. AM I BITING INTO MYSELF? MAYBE. OH THE TART SOUR OF THIS PLUM HAS RUINED ME.
10. The violet hued purple plum that is yellow on the inside is two plums sitting in a trenchcoat pretending to be a blood plum, DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THEM.
11. I need to go back to the blood plum, I’m not done yet. The dark glossy red wine round fruit, sweet with only a flicker of tarty sour, so hard to chew all the flesh off from the seed. When we were kids, we used to wait for the plums to go from light green to red on the plum tree. My brother would pick them while they were still light green and sour as all hell and take so much glee in torturing himself and others with the extreme sour. It was a test of endurance, a sign of better things to come.
12. Figs are highway robbery. At like, $2 each for a fig, it has become a luxurious decadence in Australia, unlike in Greece where they sell whole bags for two euros that you can eat on autopilot while watching the sunset on an idyllic island. In Australia they’re mostly used in salads, but I’ll still sneak one after dinner, ripe or unripened, it makes no difference to me. Figs are ancient, ripe and fleshy, primal and female. My cousin’s wife’s family sells big boxes of them from their home in Glenorie. You probably know the ones. They’re famous.
13. My dad once said you had to eat watermelon before any meal so it could slide through your body, making way for your food, like a bright pink-red carpet. Watermelon should be crisp and sweet, seedless and firm, not soggy. Watermelon is heavy, the only downside to an otherwise perfect fruit specimen. Watermelon is the meaning of life. I would eat watermelon in Barcelona the same way I would eat watermelon during summer in Coffs Harbour, outside on the grass, face to the sun, sticky juice dribbling down my chin.
14. Big, round, more reddish than black and firm cherries. I love cherries, their little stems, their little seeds, the way it’s so easy to plop one in your mouth and spit it back out again, the circle of life. Piles and piles of cherries. Nestled on a pavlova. Pitted against one another. Plucked. They’re good for you in concentrated juice form too, but few people know this.
15. I prefer the small, seedless mandarins which are easy to peel and marketed towards kids (the Frozen-branded mandarins are particularly infuriating to my boyfriend). The skin is thin and comes off easily. Peeling each piece off is like a small victory, so tiny on your mouth. I always eat two at once.
16. Oranges — they’re all good. What do you want from me? It’s an orange? I prefer them in juice. Tangy. Fresh.
17. Bananas: unripened, green. I used to eat them in Kellogg’s K like a maniac, always ripe. “You hate cereal and milk,” my mum would say. “Yeah but I love them with bananas for some inexplicable reason?” Now I eat them all the time after a friend said eating one banana once a day would cure you of any malady and honestly, she’s never been wrong, they are healing and magical.
18. Ahh, strawberries. Big and firm and unblemished. I particularly love the ones that have, like, horns at the end, three horns, you know what I mean. Covered in dark chocolate that sets over them, mummifying them. What makes that combination so good? It’s like crack, you bite in and it cracks open, I mean.
19. Raspberries have to be firm and fresh, tangy and piquant, never soggy, otherwise chuck it in the processor. They’re also ridiculously expensive in Australia. Women love them. I’m okay with this. It’s the illusion of treating yourself.
20. Blueberries — the king of the berry — firm and tart, please. So round and bulbous. I love them. You can eat as many as you want and it’s like eating none at all. Punnets on punnets on punnets. My nephew was obsessed with blueberries as a baby. He even went blueberry picking with his parents because he’s adorable, and he had the time of his tiny life. I once shared a punnet with him and, no word of a lie, he grabbed a blueberry from me as I came to place it in my mouth and placed it in his own so fast that I almost didn’t notice. He took “steal from the hand that feeds you” to heart. Is that how the saying goes?
21. Our grandfather (may he rest in peace) used to have a mulberry tree out in a vast, expansive garden that housed all the fruit trees you could think of. But the mulberry tree was wild. When it sprouted fruit, us rambunctious kids dashed through the garden which was like a forest to us, carrying our buckets, climbing over one another to pick as many as we could, careful not to get the juices all over our clothes (we always did). The excitement of spotting a big fat one was palpable. Our feet stained a blood red colour, like the scene of a crime. I’d see mulberries in the grocery shops and get excited almost as a reflex, but it was never the same. They could never be as fat and juicy. They never tasted like a small victory.
22. I didn’t know what blackberries were until my housemate told me they were his favourite of the berries. Skeptical, I tried one. It was good. How it was different to mulberries, I could not tell you. I then started buying them all the time. Only I’d forget to eat them and they were never tasty or satisfying after a few days. It was my first lesson in eating tart fruits right away. I’ll never forget it.
23. Pomegranates. Run these tiny jewels into your mouth, plop them into your salad, add them to your yoghurt, whatever you want! There’s no way to ruin a good Pom. There are so many ways to open and unleash your ruby red grains onto the world. Smash one half with the blade of a knife, then turn it inside out. Pick each jewel one by one from its white fleshy cave. Cut it open and open it in a bowl of water, the white bits floating to the top. Cut it a certain way so it all plops out. Even when it stains your white kitchen bench for all eternity, you ain’t even mad.
24. ALL LYCHEES ARE GOOD except for those watery ones that taste like a wet shoe. The fatter the better. They may be hard to peel but the wait is always worth it. Plop one in your drink. Plop two. They’re like jellyfish for your mouth. Your teeth finally land on that oval-shaped smooth seed and you’re sad that the experience is over.
25. My uncle always chastises me for buying persimmon at the city supermarket, where they’re expensive, like $3 each, when he has whole boxes of them from his garden that he insists I take each time I visit. I’m always shocked when I see persimmons in the supermarket. They appear and I forget all about them each time. My strongest memory is peeling them in my Sita’s kitchen and being shown how to eat them. Like this? Just dig in? Are you sure? You always know when you’ve got a good one but I couldn’t tell you how to pick one out when faced with them at the shops. I think what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think Coles, Woollies, or even Harris Farm can cut it anymore. I have to go home where the good fruit lies on the side of the road as you drive through Dural and Glenorie, boxes and boxes of goodness all lined up, waiting for you.