My first thought was that, if Barb was going to do a role-play slave girl thing, she should have peeled the grape for me. My second thought was that I hoped I didn’t say my first thought out loud.
Anyway, it was an ordinary green grape, perhaps a little larger than usual, with no seeds. Barbara looked at me expectantly as I chewed it. It tasted weird. Not bad, just weird. It tasted ungrapelike.
“Well?” she asked.
“It tastes funny. Like…” The flavor was reminiscent of something, but I couldn’t place it. It was like being warmly greeted on the street by someone who looks vaguely familiar and it turns out you dated her for two years in college. Except the grape was not really, really angry at me for not recognizing it.
“What?” Barbara asked impatiently. “What does it taste like?”
It was very sweet, almost cloyingly so. But it wasn’t a taste I associated with grapes. Or fruit.
Barb finally got tired of waiting. “Cotton candy,” she said.
And, yes, that was exactly it. I was eating a grape that tasted like cotton candy.
“What kind of grape is it?” I asked.
A month or two later, she presented me with another new fruit. This was dark purple in color, thin and slightly curved. It looked like a tiny eggplant. Or a small, violet finger. Or, as my son-in-law Alex decided, a petite purple penis. (I added the alliteration.)
This, I had to be told, was also a grape.
It was a little harder than grapes usually are, and tasted sweeter, but it wasn’t entirely devoid of grapiness.
“A Moon Drop grape,” Barbara announced proudly and without explanation. I was puzzled. Was it supposed to taste like a moon drop? Was it supposed to look like a moon drop? What the hell is a moon drop?
Out of curiosity, I decided to find out where these new grapes were coming from because, as previously documented in this blog, I have an instinctual mistrust of new food. I firmly believe that for every human in history who discovered something delicious to eat, there were a hundred who said, “That looks good,” took a bite, and instantly perished.
A quick Google search revealed that Cotton Candy grapes and Moon Drop grapes are both products of a California company called Grapery, which makes much more sense than if they came from Peachery.
According to its website, their grapes are the result of meticulous feeding with organic-based fertilizers and compost, drip irrigation (to perfectly control the water and nourishment), and just the right amount of sunshine. And let’s see…there was one other thing. Where was it? Ah! Here it is:
“More than ten years ago Grapery began investing in the breeding of exciting new varieties through a partnership with International Fruit Genetics.”
Hmm. If “International Fruit Genetics” doesn’t sound like the evil corporation in a science fiction movie, I don’t know what does.
- Hero: I found the files. Here’s what International Fruit Genetics was trying to hide. They’ve been cross-breeding their international fruit with…
- Cute Female Companion: …humans!
- Hero: Do you think that’s what happened to Pierre?
- Japanese Reporter: Look out! Here comes a giant walking apple, and it’s wearing a beret!
This partnership with the diabolical International Fruit Genetics firm has enabled Grapery to introduce all sorts of new grapes, like Witch Fingers® and Gum Drops®. They do have grape-flavored grapes, too, but even those are trademarked: Sweet Surrender®, Sweet Celebration®, Sweet Jubilee®. And then there’s their Flavor Pops® line, which are “one-of-a-kind varieties (that) are so new we haven’t even had time to name them yet.”
They probably also haven’t had time to test them. You know, to make sure they are harmless to humans.
I already know the Cotton Candy grapes give me gas.
Grapery says they’re all about innovation, but, frankly, that’s not always a good thing when it comes to food. In fact, it rarely turns out to be a good thing. For every positive breakthrough, like pasteurization, there’s probably dozens of negative ones like cows getting massive doses of antibiotics, snack cakes with shelf lives longer than most people’s lives, and just about any non-pastry-based food item sold at Dunkin’ Donuts.
The bottom line is this: do we really need new food? What was wrong with the grapes we had? If they were good enough for slave girls to peel, they’re good enough for me.
See you soon.