You can't insult a grapefruit. The fruit has no history, no identity. How can you insult something that's undefined? You can't.
That's no dig. The grapefruit is clean and delicious, one of my favorite fruits. But name one myth that gives top billing to the grapefruit. See? You can't do it.
Now, the apple there's a fruit with a past. From Paris and Aphrodite all the way down to Adam and Eve, the apple sits at the head of the mythological table. But it doesn't dine alone. It sups with the pomegranate, grape and peach, to name but a few. Unlike the grapefruit, whose underappreciated acid has been pressed into humiliating service in countless dish soaps and shampoos, these other fruits are so culturally laden that marketers know to handle them respectfully, gingerly offering classy spin-offs like wine, applesauce and Pom, the overpriced pomegranate juice.
The olive is another fruit with mythic lineage. It's said that after unifying the villages of Attica, the demigod Cecrops asked the gods to protect the new city. Vying for the honor, Poseidon thrust his trident into the ground and brought forth a spring of salt water impressive, but sort of a white elephant for a city that's just getting started. Unfazed, Athena slammed her staff into the ground, where it transformed into an olive tree. Finding that olives were tastier and more useful than saltwater, the villagers chose Athena as their protector and named their city Athens, in honor of the goddess.
Things went pretty well for the olive in those early days. Treated with respect, yielding tapenades and oils. But the Greek gods are gone now, and the olive has hit rough patch, corralled into tin cans and atomized in aerosol sprays.
Still, it took the great minds at Roxy Trading Inc. to deliver the coup de grace. How'd they do it? Behold the Roxy Trading Inc. Preserved Seedless Olive.
The label says "preserved," but pulverized is more accurate. Roxy Trading Inc. has taken the olive's firm flesh and transformed it into a pink, powdery wafer.
No matter how bad these flattened fruits look like spat-out pieces of gum? like dehydrated cats' tongues? nothing could have prepared me for the experience of snapping one of these sandstone lumps between my molars. Perfumed, granular and saliva-sapping, these chemical confections have all the gustatory charm of cheap sandalwood incense.
I brush the crumbs around with my tongue for a while. Frankly, I'm afraid to swallow. Finally the olive makes its way down the hatch.
Now where'd I put that grapefruit mouthwash?