I had some grapes last night, a big heaping fistful. Fresh, bright green and plump, juicy. Not many seeds, cold from the fridge, sparkling wet from being rinsed off. I love grapes, these store-bought, rather generic ones as well as the small, sharp, wild ones I picked and ate right off the vine when I was very young. We don’t get grapes often, only occasionally in fact, but they are about as good a sweet snack as can be naturally produced.
Bananas are great, so are tangerines and some oranges. Apples, well they’re quite good and there’s quite a variety of them, but they’re much more difficult to manage. Peeling, coring, slicing, a lot of work, all that biting and chewing. Grapes, well you wash them off, pluck them from their skeleton, heck, lots of them fall off by themselves, and just pop them in your mouth, done, instant gratification.
Grapes can be peeled too, I know this, I’ve done it. It’s not easy, especially if your goal is, as is mine with tangerines and oranges, to keep the peel in one piece. It takes patience and dedication but with practice it can be done. Some folks I hear can peel them inside their mouths using only their tongue and teeth. I tried that a couple of times, but my brain-mouth connection has never been very exacting or reliable.
I like raisins too, raisins used to be grapes. I have a small box of raisins every day as half of my lunch. They don’t taste quite the same, raisins aren’t juicy, they’re kind of slimy, but they are still sweet and easy on the mouth, and healthier than cookies or candy some people say. The other half of my lunch consists of a small package of peanut butter crackers, the bright yellow square ones you see in finer vending machines. I don’t eat anything for breakfast during the week, so this small lunch, in addition to about ten cups of coffee during the day provides all the energy and nutrition I need until dinner time, when I gorge myself on pretty much anything placed in front of me.
A doctor once told me that this style of eating was ‘atrocious’ which is, as I recall, a technical medical term for ‘good’ or ‘perfect’. It’s what lions do after all, how bad can it be?
But back to the grapes.
Wine is made from grapes too. I like wine. In case you’re not familiar with wine I’ll explain it to you. Take some grapes from a vine yard. Put them in a solid gopherwood barrel and have them danced and stomped upon by buxom French women. Then pour the resulting fluid into a pretentiously labeled bottle and you have wine. How’s this different from grape juice? Obviously it’s the added toe jam. Be careful though, the finer wines can be quite pricy. I’ve seen some pretentiously labeled wines go for upwards of ten or twelve dollars!
I enjoy wine nearly every evening because it solves all my problems. We really prefer the less expensive boxed white wines which are not stomped upon by French women. Instead they are apparently stomped upon by less expensive women from the region around the winery in Thunderclap,
At this point you’re expecting me to say something like “I like grapes, but they don’t like me.” I almost did say that since that’s really what this missive is actually about, the side effects of grapes, not the grapes themselves.
But they do like me. I’d even say that grapes love me as much or more than any other living or formerly living thing on this planet. How much do they love me? They love me jealously, protectively.
I say ‘jealously’ since once eaten they don’t seem to want to share me with anything else I may have eaten in the last few days. I say ‘protectively’ in the sense that the grapes I’ve eaten seem to be greatly concerned about all the excess, unnecessary and perhaps even harmful stuff inhabiting every dark corner of my digestive system.
Grapes not only express concern with these things, they don’t just write a terse letter or wag a condescending finger, no, grapes are rather insistent if not downright demanding. And there’s no use arguing with grapes. They don’t understand ‘let’s all just get along’ or, ‘there’s plenty of me for everybody’ or ‘for the love of God, make it stop!’ And grapes, once eaten do not sleep. They leap onto the task of eliminating competition and ridding the hallways of all hanger’s-on immediately and tirelessly.
Grapes are also like a lover in that they can make you completely forget about past troubles, fights and turmoil. While I was eating them last night it never once occurred to me that grapes always treat me this way. I am blinded to the past when I’m eating them, no recollection at all about the discomfort and pain of the aftermath that seems so clear to me now many, many hours later.
Milk makes me feel the same way. Though milk loves me the same way, jealously and protectively, I do not love milk nearly as much. I never have milk by itself, only with other things, cereal or, well, that’s pretty much it except as a minor ingredient in something I’m cooking. I can go years without a bowl of cereal, so I can also go years without consuming much raw milk in its pure natural, pasteurized, homogenized and vitamin D enriched form. And even when I do have a bowl of cereal, I always recall that it may cause some discomfort and urgency. I certainly make sure that on the rare days I do have a bowl of cereal that I did not previously consume anything nearly as volatile as the big bowl of spicy chili I had for dinner last night.
The chili, I call it either ‘bachelor chili’, or ‘Angel didn’t have time to make anything, chili’, is quick and simple and at our house, always on hand. Take some celery, peppers, (both bell peppers and a small portion of jalapeno), garlic, a thick slice of onion (diced), crushed red pepper, black pepper and just a little salt and sauté it all in a small skillet till tender. (I keep some diced peppers and celery in the freezer) Pop open a can of medium quality canned chili, stir to combine, then let it simmer for as long as it takes to make up some fresh ice tea.
Put a handful of shredded cheese and a teaspoon of sour cream in your favorite bowl (if it’s not in the dishwasher), pour in the bubbling chili then stir it around until all the sour cream has melted from the spoon.
Caution! Do not even start this process unless you have already confirmed that you have these two things close at hand!
So that’s what I had for dinner around six-thirty last night, thoroughly enjoyable while hunched over a good book. Then I didn’t do very much, which was a mistake. My little laptop suffered from a mean virus over the weekend and had not fully recovered so I spent the evening hunched over it hacking the registry and restarting it, re-running the scans, etc. This virus really loved my little laptop, jealously and protectively.
The hunched over issue is important. My digestive system does not function at it’s best if I am hunched over, it favors upright and moderate physical activity like walking or even ‘just not being hunched over’. I am a highly trained and highly skilled IT professional and thus my entire day is spent hunched over by necessity. By continuing that posture after getting home, and especially after a hearty, healthy meal, the whole digestive process slows to a heart-burning crawl.
That is unless a jealous and protective lover joins in, like milk, or grapes. They don’t care how long I was hunched over, they simply don’t care at all. They seek only to rid their new lover of all other contenders, all the other clingers. They seek to erase my system of all my past sins, the sooner the better.
Chili + hunching over+ grapes = significant discomfort.
So today, starting pretty early, I suffered not from the ‘wrath of grapes’, but rather enjoyed the rewards of healthy snacking. Grapes are good for me, they contain all that healthy vitamin and mineral stuff I’m supposed to be consuming instead of potato chips and cookies, and they’re also supposed to help keep me regular.
Regular? Right. I’ll tell ya’ this sweetheart, if this is ‘regular’. . .
So it’s been over twenty-four hours, I’m feeling a lot better now, having been so lovingly purged of nearly everything in my system. It’s left me kind of hungry though, maybe a snack would help, something healthy of course…..