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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Florida ruby reds




Letitia wants beach? Letitia gets beach.













I got this old tablecloth from my mom, although I am guessing it came from her mother, Grandma Olive.






When I was a kid I watched my parents dust halves of grapefruit - the yellow variety - with sugar before eating. Then in adolescence I watched my red-headed sister Susan eat ruby red grapefruit from Florida without sugar, always exclaiming "It doesn't need sugar, it's so sweet!" To myself I said, "notta chance." I was pretty sure the real reason she liked them was that they were pink, her favorite color, which sadly she didn't wear for years because you weren't supposed to if you had red hair. Finally as an adult I tried the ruby, and all I can say is, what a shame all those wasted years. If you don't eat the pith, the fruit is scrumptiously sweet.

In April a few years ago Don and I arrived at my niece (Susan's daughter BTW) and her husband's house in Sarasota, Florida, for a few days, pulled into their driveway, opened the car door, and wham! Got smacked in the face with a soft pillow of the sweetest fragrance I'd smelled since jasmine in Pasadena. A blossoming grapefruit tree arches over their driveway. I kept trying to think of excuses to run to the store just so I could get in and out of the car and fill my head with that intoxication again.

I may live in a Winter Wonderland, but this time of year one of the sweetest treats is eating pink grapefruit from Florida.





Proper grapefruit utensils help build anticipation. With the grapefruit knife carve and separate the flesh from membranes and pith, first with the double blade end along straight sides, then with the curved blade along the round edge. Don gave me this knife for Christmas the year I remember as the best gift bonanza ever: all cool stuff for the kitchen.





When that's done a grapefruit spoon has a sharpish point that helps you scoop out any remaining attached flesh down in those triangular valleys so you can slurp the juicy fruit into your mouth. This one is from another Susie - my dad's sister, Auntie Sue.




Grapefruit has to be eaten in a bowl, then don't forget to squ- e - e -e -ze it out and drink the last drops of juice when you've dug out every morsel of fruit you can. Oops, don't choke on the seeds.





x o x o x o x o x
Today's ornaments:

Most years we picked up ornaments for Lesley and Peter that matched. They were pretty little when they got these stuffed nursery toys. Lesley's dolly has a lovely ivory porcelain face (and so does Lesley).

49 comments:

Gwen Buchanan said...

Ruth,you have made my mouth water...

Your Christmas ornaments with their attached memories... tug at my heart...

a said...

OK! Grapefruit right off the tree IS sweet enough without sugar. A few years back I lugged home a duffle bag full of them (freshly picked from my brothers california tree) back to Wisconsin...I have not had one as good since then:) D E L I C I O U S! And you are so right about the perfume these trees give off:)

Loring Wirbel said...

Want to hear something strange? Because I take statins, one thing I am forbidden from having is grapefruit! Strange reactions with chemicals. The doc says I can cheat with a half-grapefruit or six-ounce glass from time to time, but he'd rather see me cheat with alcohol than grapefruit (for which I'm happy to oblige him). My aunt and uncle always used to send us a large box of grapefruit from Florida every Christmas, but I'm sort of glad they gave it up -- too much torture.

Love art-deco 1930s art from Florida, BTW.

Wrensong Farm said...

I LOVE that tablecloth! I really enjoy seeing things from those years. :)

I love the story about your sister and her red hair.:) I have red hair too and for years avoided all the colors that redheads weren't supposed to wear. Now I try them on anyway and it's surprising how many colors you actually CAN wear if you're a redhead!

I grew up in So Cal in Palm Desert eating my fill of grapefruit (ruby and white), oranges, lemons.....I didn't realize just how spoiled I was.....until now living in WA state for almost 30 years and I CRAVE grapefruit every winter...and now after seeing yours so beautifully displayed I must make it to the grocery store!! :)

Don said...

I always think I don't like grapefruit until you chop one in half and need someone to take care of the half you don't eat. (well, sometimes don't eat.)

No scurvy here!

Sharon said...

I love grapefruit, unfortunately I'm allergic or intolerant but every once in a while I will have one. I'm definitely tempted seeing this!

Funny your beautiful table cloth seems so corporeal.....perhaps your parents weren't as other worldly as I've imagined them.

My Castle in Spain said...

i'm all ears when it comes to red ruby grapefruit...LOVE IT !!!
my local little village supermarket didn't sell any until i started to insist they got some.
i had the same kind of knife years ago in Paris to eat grapefruit and unfortunately lost it. They're great aren't they ?

i never smelled a blossoming grapefruit tree...must be divine

(love the vintage tablecoth by the way...really cool)

Anet said...

Okay...I'm a confessed grapefruit hater. Yuck! But I really love the tablecloth! So vintage. Autumn gave me a vintage hankie with a map of Michigan on it, much like your tablecloth. It's blue and white. It came from her boyfriend's grandparent's estate sale.
I love the ornaments, so sweet! One for a girl and one for a boy. How cute!!!

Ruth said...

Gwen, I'm grateful to Anet for her idea to post ornaments, because photographing them gives me a chance to re-see them as if for the first time.

Ruth said...

Amy, I confess I never ate a grapefruit in Florida, must be so much better fresh! When we lived in Pasadena we had a lemon tree - all that fresh lemon meringue pie! And bagfuls of avacadoes from two trees. People in these states might not realize how good they have it. :)

Susan said...

My father-in-law has the same knife and he has to have sugar on his already sweet ruby-reds. My mother was such a lover of grapefruit, even the white ones. She could get more out of one than anyone I've ever seen. She didn't let one drop go to waste. Funny, but after she and my step-dad retired to Florida, she took a job in a citrus processing plant and became an expert at sectioning grapefruit. It smelled wonderful in the whole town when they were processing. And the smell of the blossoms wafting over the entire area was heavenly. You couldn't breathe deeply enough.

Ruth said...

Loring, my father-in-law (I think it's him) has the same issue! I was very surprised to hear about that specific taboo. I'm sorry to post this and make you think about it. :(

Remember only art deco from this post!

Ruth said...

Hi Tammy! Ah a redhead, eh? Half my family are redheads - started with my dad.

It truly isn't until you meet someone from outside the southern climes that you realize what you have there. I hope what you find at the store satisfies your craving, but I bet it doesn't match one fresh from the grove.

Ruth said...

Don, wanna help me eat the 3 halves sitting on the counter that I used for the photos?

Ruth said...

Rats, Sharon, that stinks. As I said to Loring, I'm sorry to make you think about them.

Ah, you are so perceptive about my parents. You were right on the first time. I inherited a stack of these vintage tablecloths from my mom. I had never seen this Florida one until after my mom was gone - she never put it out. My mom chided my sister Susan in Hawaii once for letting her daughter (of the grapefruit tree driveway) wear a bikini. For that alone she would have shunned this tablecloth (and these aren't even bikinis). I'm guessing Mom got it when her mother died in 1960, and she stuck it in a drawer.

Rich, huh?

Sandy said...

love both posts, the one above this one too..beautiful photo of the grapefruit on the table...gotta do this quick...hope it goes through....

Ruth said...

Hi Lala. Wow, good for you and your market. I wonder where they get them from. I'd think they could be grown in Spain. The knife really makes a difference, because once you start eating the fruit, it's all ease and love.

I thought you might like this tablecloth.

Ruth said...

No, Anet, no! I wanna blindfold you and give you a taste unknowingly. There is no bitterness. But again, let's not focus on the grapefruit. Loring can't because of statins, Sharon can't because of allergy, and you can't because you hate 'em.

So let's talk about vintage tablecloths and hankies! That one sounds so cool that Autumn gave you. Maybe a pic sometime? Lesley was into vintage stuff too.

Thanks about the ornaments. Yep, we have lots of girl-boy sets.

Ruth said...

Whoa Susan, your FIL reminds me of pouring sugar on frosted flakes as a kid! And haha, your mom reminds me of Susan my sister, hahaha, just picturing her - so cute! I'll bet my sister could work side-by-side with your mom in the sectioning grapefruit section. Does your mom debone the turkey carcass too until a dog wouldn't be able to detect that there was once meat on it?

Ruth said...

Auntie Sandy, you made it again! Thank you for keeping on trying when it must be such a pain. :|

freefalling said...

I'm late, I'm late .....aren't I always - but I get here eventually!
The beach!!!
Yay!
I've told you before we have some weird synchronicity!
Yesterday, I spent the day trawling accommodation sites for a beach house for a holiday!
(looks like Noosa-Qld for mum's 60th birthday in March).
Firstly - I LOVE that tablecloth - it's fabulous.
And....I've NEVER eaten a ruby grapefruit!
I think grapefruit is an american thing.
It is rare to see a grapefruit tree in Australia.
And rare to see grapefruit sold in the stores.
Occasionally, they will be in the weird fruit section of the supermarket along with the dragon fruit, custard apples and sapotes.
Next time I see one - I'm gunna give it a go!

shicat said...

Ruth here we go again down memeory lane. I LOVE ruby reds. I usually eat them like a an orange yum. My dad used to eat them as you suggest in a bowl with a special spoon and knife. I can remeber watching him paitiently cutting away.Of course, as a kid, there is no way I would have tried them.Mistake. I can't even imagine how glorius a grapefuit tree would be!?

LOVED the vintage tablecloth,what a treasure. I noticed the Sarasota Ringling bros. museum reference. I would love to go there. I read Water for Elephants last year and there were so many great vintage circus photos. Wouldn't you just love to visit. I know circus' are not P.C. and I understand why. I love animals and would hate to think that anyone would treat them cruelly,but as a kid my dad took us almost annually to the Shrine Circus and we loved it. thanks for a great post. Oh I just read what you wrote in your leave a comment section,that's beautiful Ruth. Blessings to you and your loved ones.xoxoxox

VioletSky said...

(This message on your comments section is new, eh?)

Not a huge grapefruit lover myself, but I do LOVE that tablecloth! I drool when I see that sort of vintage.

And the ornaments are adorable

Ruth said...

Hi there Letitia (drumming my fingers and looking at my watch). Hehe, just kidding. You are on the other side of the world, so I didn't 'spect you to be here in 5 minutes.

Queensland beach house, eh? Did you get a bed pour moi? I'll bring grapefruit. Pretty please? I won't say nuttin and I'll sweep out the sand.

Ruth said...

Cathy, I have never eaten a grapefruit like an orange, although I've always admired the sophistication of thems who do.

No, circuses are not PC but they are embedded in us somewhere. But I have a sad circus story. My dad dropped my brother and me off at one (the only one I recall) and the time he'd set to pick us up outside was before the elephants. :| No cell phones in those days to tell him to wait just a sec. But yeah, my niece in Sarasota took us to the Ringling mansion on the water, the one filmed in "Great Expectations" where Anne Bancroft lived. So cool!

Ruth said...

Sanna, yep I keep adding words to the comment box message. Pretty soon it will be an essay.

Wish we could have tea one at a time on all the tablecloths I have. Most of them have stains on them I can't get out, but not this Florida one. It's pristine.

JoAnn's-D-Eyes said...

Hmmm Ruth,
that looks all so cosy AND COLOURFULL, I do like grapefruits all times but your way looks like a delicatesse, However I like fruit better than icecreams or whatever snacks, I hope you are doing fine,

we are leaving soon for a Christmas holiday,( a house with an open wood fire) are you staying home or not?

Greetings from JoAnn/Holland

Ruth said...

Dear JoAnn, usually I convince myself that I like fruit better than ice cream too. I know I feel better after it!

Your holiday sounds perfect, I know you enjoy winter too. Stay warm by the fire and enjoy a good book and love.

Peter said...

After reading your post and all the comments, I have decided to start buying grapefruit again! It's really good and I somehow lost the habit. (Of course I don't have you sophisticated tools, but I will try to manage anyhow .. without sugar!)

I'm surprised to see how well Lesley's and Peter's toys have survived; look so nice and clean!

Ruth said...

Good, Peter! Lala (My Castle in Spain) said she had one of these sophisticated utensils in Paris, so maybe you'll see one in your wanderings.

As for the "nursery toys" - they are only tree ornaments and come out for a few weeks a year, then back into tissue in a box. They don't get touched much, unlike real nursery toys.

Susan said...

Ruth, Mom was exactly like that! Unfortunately, I lost her almost 22 years ago. I still have a hole in my heart from her passing.

Bob Johnson said...

Never ever had any kind of grapefruit, may try it out now. Again with the cool ornaments.

Leena said...

Ruth, your post could be a brilliant didactic examble ! ( I remembered, that I have been doing also a didactic work in the University of Joensuu, when I read your post :)
It is flowing just correct from the beginning to the end and such a lovely end.

You are talent in many ways.
Nice Monday evening to you!

Babs (Beetle) said...

Me thinks that maybe you like pink grapefruit :O)

You made my mouth water and I'm not keen on grapefruit either!

Ruth said...

Bob, what??

Please tell me when you try some.

Ruth said...

Leena, that is so sweet from a teacher!

Ruth said...

Babs, I'm gonna go eat one right now.

Hildegarde said...

Such a wonderful post, the whole story and the photos, from the tablecloth (wow !), the fragrance, the special knife and spoon (i'm learning) to the ornaments. I enjoyed it.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Hildegarde, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Sandy said...

HI RUth, got your message. I reposted them so it would be easier to get to...

here is the link:

http://sandy-everydayart.blogspot.com/

I am honored that you want to put them up..thanks!

Ruth said...

Thank you very much, Sandy!

lasiate said...

hhhuuum les pamplemousses rosés, un gout d'enfance

Ruth said...

Ahh, Lasiate, "les pamplemousses rosés" sonne mieux que "pink grapefruit."

Nautankey said...

Ailaa I am lost. Everytime I visti ur page I feel like this kid who goes thru cartoon books.Losing focus on the text and seeing only the colorful pictures :). It is a test for my reading skills,not to get caried away by that beautiful winter header or the awesome pics in the posts.And the grapfruits... yumm...mouth watering indeed

Ruth said...

Aw Nautankey, I don't know if that's a good thing or not? ;) Maybe I should post fewer pitturs so you'll read the text unencumbered.

Bob Johnson said...

I will,my wife usually buys some, maybe this next payday

Ruth said...

Ok, Bob. I'll be waiting.

Ginnie said...

I LOVE how you're showcasing different ornaments in your posts, Ruth. What a great idea! I can't tell you when I last ate a pink grapefruit. Shame on me because I love them and they have gotta be so good for you. I think what I like most when you write about food is the whole ethos of it...the "presentation is everything" approach. It speaks to the artist in your soul!

Ruth said...

Boots, the idea to post ornaments came from Anet, so fun. We'll be sure to have some pink grapefruit in the house when you come! Then we can take turns with the grapefruit knife (k-nife - as Mom would say).