In the aftermath of the Southfield High School Marching Band’s annual Florida citrus fundraiser, our household always had at least one box of grapefruits sitting in the mudroom that we were tasked with eating ourselves. Being the absolute barbarian that I was, I would tear the peel from the grapefruit while demonstrating no refinement in my technique whatsoever.
Once I had the grapefruit looking as naked as a freshly peeled Mandarin orange Cutie from McDonald’s, I’d separate the individual segments, and then I’d rip open the pith that held the segments together, unsheathing the fleshy pulp within it, and satisfy myself with the sensation of feeling every individual kernel of juice burst free, with no interference from the bitterness of the peel, the pith or the rind.
Admittedly, it’s probably the messiest imaginable way to eat a grapefruit; it transforms a neatly packaged and delectable piece of fruit into a pile of citrus-scented garbage. But if eating a grapefruit that way is wrong, I don’t want to be right. That said, it’s probably in my best interest to learn how to properly eat a grapefruit so that I can avoid appearing like an absolute gremlin when eating in the presence of polite company.
How are you supposed to eat a grapefruit anyway?
If there’s a special utensil designed and optimized specifically for the consumption of a single food item, it’s safe to assume that use of that utensil is an integral component in the preferred technique for consumption. Lo and behold, there is such a piece of cutlery specifically designed for tackling the grapefruit and assisting you with devouring its tasty innards: The grapefruit spoon!
To start, grab a sharp knife, and bisect the grapefruit laterally, with its pedicil — i.e., the protruding nub from which the grapefruit would hang from a tree — facing to one side, and its bottom facing to the other. Or for lack of a better analogy, pretend the grapefruit is a globe and slice it along its equator. Now that you’ve got two halves of a grapefruit with clearly exposed flesh, you can place each half into a bowl. The time has now arrived for the grapefruit spoon to demonstrate its worth!
You’ll find that the grapefruit spoon has an extended bowl with a very narrow tip. The outermost half of the bowl extending toward the tip should also have serrated edges. This enables you to easily drive the tip down and in along the outer edge of the pulpy segment of the grapefruit that abuts the boundary provided by the pith and the peel. If you’ve executed this slicing movement effectively, you should be able to lift the pulp of each segment free and clear from the remainder of the fruit.
This is the most efficient way to eat a grapefruit, at least if you’re doing so at the swanky brunch spot on the corner.
Can’t I just use another spoon?
You can, but it isn’t designed to make the precise incisions that a grapefruit spoon is capable of cutting. You’re probably going to get annoyed for your efforts, while mangling the grapefruit’s interior in the process. I suppose you could use the serrated edge of a knife to make things easier, but then you look like the chump who’s putting far too much effort into eating what’s basically a big, sour orange.
Are those really my only options?
Of course not. You can also peel the grapefruit like it’s an orange, pull apart its individual segments and then eat those segments one by one. However, now you’re stuck eating the bitter pith of the grapefruit, which is certainly tolerable when you’re scarfing down a sweet navel orange, but less ideal when you’re eating something that’s already somewhat bitter to begin with.
If you want my advice, just rip the pith off with your bare hands, stuff the pulp in your mouth and smile as the residual juice drips down your face. So what if people gawk. You’re not exactly wrong, and brunch has gotten too stuffy anyway.