Sunday, November 12, 2006


We were sitting in the airport waiting lounge last week, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I, and she graciously handed me a small box of raisins. A convenient snack.

I looked at the little dried grapes as they lay there in my hand like little mouse turds. Raisins are not especially pretty, are they? But they pack a nice, grapey flavor punch. I am especially fond of golden raisins, which offer flavor notes of apricot and peach. For Thanksgiving, the Missus makes an Italian sausage and rice dressing with pine-nuts and golden raisins, and it is those raisins, I believe, that transform the dish from something merely extraordinary to one that is sublime.

I’ll cop to being a dried fruit aficionado. Prunes - the current politically correct term is, I believe, “dried plums” - are raisins writ large, brownish-purple and wrinkled like a pensioner’s nutsack. Cute, no - but they are tasty. Likewise dried apricots, pears, nectarines, and peaches. Stewed in a little orange juice and with some rum or Cognac thrown in, they make a fine dessert; eaten out of hand, they are a fine snack. I also will chop ’em into little chunks and scatter ’em on my breakfast cereal.

Dried fruit is also eminently transportable and long-lasting. When it gets old, it does not decompose; it petrifies. Hot water will revive it.

There are, of course, a few serious drawbacks to eating dried fruit. Every rose must have its thorn, alas.

Drawback the first is the high calorie content. Prunes, raisins, and their cousins are high in sugar carbohydrates, packing a serious calorie wallop. Eating a prune, after all, is like eating a plum, but without the moisture load. You get all of the calories and all of the carbs of the original fruit.

Drawback the second is the high fiber content. This, on the face of it, is a Good Thing. Fiber keeps the old kishkes exercised, simultaneously slowing the absorption of all those carbs. But fiber is a double-edged sword. Too much, and you get to experience the reason prunes have developed a fearsome reputation as Old-Folks Fodder: their pronounced Laxative Effect.

Much as I’d love to eat a whole honkin’ bag of prunes at one sitting, I know that I - and any random passersby who happened to be in my immediate vicinity - would suffer mightily as a result. You do not want to be standing between the person who has just feasted on a surfeit of Dried Fruit and the White Porcelain Throne, lest you be trampled...and possibly shat upon.

The love of Desiccated Fruit is not universal. Our good friend Don calls it “Dead Fruit”; he refuses to eat it in any form, be it raisins, prunes, loquats, mangoes, or rambutans. And that’s OK: de gustibus non est disputandum.

More for me.

No comments: