Saturday, November 26, 2011


I enjoy grapefruit, the kind with red or pink flesh.

I also really enjoy collecting cookbooks and cookery magazines from the 1960s and 1970s - the more lurid the photography, the more unappetising the recipes and cookery tips the better. This slim magazine which I found in a charity shop in the mid-2000s for 50p keeps giving and giving.

Within its pages, among tips on how to host the perfect dinner party and 101 ways to make lovely food absolutely revolting by suspending it in aspic, I found an advert for grapefruit.

I initially thought, "Ooh, grapefruit recipes, how interesting." And then on closer inspection, I thought, "OH MY GOD, HOW COULD ANYONE EVEN CONSIDER DOING THAT WITH GRAPEFRUIT?" In order of ascending horror and repulsion, here are the recipes that were deemed worthy of recognition by the grapefruit marketing board.

First: grapefruit salad. Not too awful, as citrus fruit in salad is quite acceptable (by other people - I think it is despicable but can appreciate, in a purely theoretical way, how certain flavours and textures can complement one another.) Here is a grapefruit, cucumber and blue cheese salad, presented in a spectacularly tortured way:

How horrid, but it only set off a mild case of twitches and facial tics in me as I tried to process what it would taste like. Next recipe is chicken a la grapefruit - the speck of French presumably acts as flavour enhancer - with grapefruit wine and grapefruit champagne.

Grapefruit is fragrant and delicate, but easily overwhelms other flavours as its bitterness overrides anything else touching your palate. So, why not drop a wedge in your boutique bubbly to wipe out the subtle marzipan top notes? And how about topping up that complex, floral zinfandel you've been saving with a hefty splash of grapefruit juice? And that chicken? Add grapefruit. Why not? That leg with its tasty, juicy brown meat and salty crispy skin *needs* a good dose of citrus. It nearly works, in all three cases there is potential for interesting flavour combinations but... look at those photos. Just look. The yellow tones look as lurid and unappetising as a selection of urine samples.

Behold: grapefruit coffee and a grapefruit and cheese sandwich! The elaborate presentation with stuffed olive garnish seems to be a desperate distraction from what is obviously wrong with this suggestion for 'elevenses'. Also - can you imagine the disturbing, juicy, bitter flavours flooding your mouth as you bite into that grapefruit segment made confusingly hot with espresso? Can you imagine it? Now try to un-imagine it. Go on, try. You can't. That scar won't heal, not ever.

Could it get worse? It gets worse. Here is a grapefruit omelette.

Omelette. WITH GRAPEFRUIT. Not just a twist of grapefruit juice, or a scattering of grapefruit zest. It's an omelette folded over half a goddamn grapefruit. Those fat yellow segments poke out of the heavy folds of egg like the tongues of seriously ill alcoholics. The omelette seems to be vomiting up grapefruit, retching at its own audacious creation. Somehow that tomato, so plump, so red, so natural and intact with its perky green stalk makes the whole plate so much worse. It decorates this wrong-headed concoction by D. Davis of Phyllis Avenue, Peacehaven, Sussex like the red nose of a clown. As advertisements go, this one is a triumph of reverse psychology: after viewing these recipes with grapefruit in so many horrific applications, I crave grapefruit more than ever. Grapefruit in its purest, unsullied, uncooked, untortured form. Jaffa, circa 1972: you win.


Gorilla Bananas said...

How can you tell whether a grapefruit will be sweet and not bitter? I have had too many disappointments with those damned fruits.

Richmonde said...

Aaargh I have an overwhelming urge to eat grapefruit now.

Planethalder said...

So which recipe did you try ;-)

Planethalder said...

PS you should update my URL on your sidebar as is no longer in use. (Er, if you want to, that is!)