Humour: Fruit for thought

Nature’s sweetest gift is lifting spirts, as countless lockdown posts suggest
Something about the goodness of fruit sustains us in hard times(Photo imaging: Parth Garg)
Something about the goodness of fruit sustains us in hard times(Photo imaging: Parth Garg)
Updated on May 10, 2020 12:29 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByRehana Munir

The unthinkable has happened. The mango season is in full swing, without any ceremony or sentimental tributes. This needs to be corrected instantly, so here goes. The world might have hit its darkest patch, but there is still an orange lining on select sub-continental street carts. I have just allowed myself a slice of heaven, temporarily transporting me out of these insipid times and into the sweet realm of fruity nostalgia.

Streetside thievery

Where there is a mango, there are memories of grandmothers, childhood games and the freedom of summer evenings. But a mango, like any self-obsessed superstar, eclipses the less shouty charms of the rest of the fruit ensemble. My mind goes back to a drive from Pahalgam to Srinagar in a minibus filled with cousins. As the sun plummeted taking our spirits along with it, we made a quick stop at an apple orchard. Now the last person I’d heard of biting into an apple that’s plucked straight off a tree was one Eve, and things didn’t go very well for her. Our party was luckier; the farm owner even sliced the fruit using a simple yet magnificent contraption. An apple I hold dearer to my heart than the one I’m typing these words on.

Where there is a mango, there are memories of grandmothers, childhood games and the freedom of summer evenings

For those familiar with the lanes of Bandra in Mumbai, they will know well a fruit that is plentiful at this time of year. The white jamun with its juicy-crunchy kick. This, of all fruits, I proclaim, is best had stolen, slightly bruised from its fall, and in less fastidious times, dusty too. Sweet is the fruit of streetside thievery.

Fruity dangers

On a long-ago trip to Malaysia, I was exposed to a peculiar and powerful fruit. The durian, with its spiky exterior and noxious smell, could well be a flavour invented by Bertie Bott of Every Flavour Bean fame. Even lovers of jackfruit and adorers of melon would be hard-pressed to squeeze out a defence for this offender. I believe there are laws that prohibit its transport in various nations. I salute such efforts against bio-weaponry.

Pineapple, I believe, is another such fruit whose ability to alienate we take too lightly. I’ve never understood its widespread appeal. Shamelessly frontlining a pina colada. Parading its boldness in an upside-down cake. Even squashing itself into a halwa! I know that it’s pointless to scream one’s support or rejection of a universally acknowledged fruit, but I feel it’s providing me with some much-needed catharsis at a difficult time. In the interest of brevity, I will edit out my rant against those tiny bananas and too-tart plums. And my intense aversion to peaches is not open to discussion.

Banana split personality

The best way to eat fruit, I believe, is when it’s enhancing some kind of dessert. It all started with those cherries in a black forest cake, my generation’s introduction to this glorious possibility. And that old favourite, banana split. With the lockdown raging on, I see people who can’t tell the difference between moong and toor dal whipping up lemon sorbets and strawberry cheesecakes, with potted plants and quirky tableware in filtered frames. I try and repress my puritanical streak and the urge to express my wicked astonishment.

But as someone who cuts a watermelon like a Cubist gone wild, I’m in no position to mock. I retaliate by making my own posts, gathering fruit in sunlit trays with captions about Rembrandt and still life.

Something about the goodness of fruit sustains us in hard times. Whether you encounter an apricot in a Moroccan stew or a raisin in an oatmeal cookie, it brings a comfort and delight that is the very mandate of lockdown food. Coconut milk in a curry or kokum in a cooler – the tropics provide such freshness and variety to recipes. I, for one, am grateful for that morning glass of orange juice, between the doing of the dishes and the taking out of the garbage. For a few golden moments, the broken world becomes whole again. And then, once the first round of chores is done and first wave of work mails dealt with, it’s back to being a fruitcake. Only wicked thoughts about people’s excellent cooking skills can save the day.

Follow @rehana_munir on Twitter and Instagram

From HT Brunch, May 10, 2020

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021