As I sit munching on red seedless grapes and orangey-red Rainier cherries, I can’t help but remember and laugh at how grapes and cherries came close to causing a rift in our family when I was a youngster who had been taught to be seen and not heard.
In the parental house, having fruits and vegetables at our family meals was absolutely essential and even though some of those vegetables produced a gag effect, I ate them because not to eat them would produce a lesson in being grateful for our ability to enjoy vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, asparagus, squash and turnips when children in unheard of countries were hungry.
Our winter supply of fruits and vegetables came from the hundreds of quart sealers in which were preserved all variety of fruits bought by the case or picked from our own trees and bushes. The vegetables in those jars came from our garden and because I had helped with the harvest, the peas and beans and corn tasted so much better. And the pickles, both dill and sweet, won hands down over anything available in the grocery store.
But it was the fresh fruit, the grapes and cherries, bought despite the high prices, that made summer such a wonderful season. The rule was that we couldn’t taste the fruits in the store, nor could we taste them until they were washed and then and only then, were we able to enjoy those luscious and juicy products of British Columbia. And we were limited to how many we could eat at one sitting so as to prolong the enjoyment until our next trip to the fruit market.
It was therefore a shock when some relatives dropped in unexpectedly and obviously didn’t know or hadn’t learned the fruit-eating rules of our house. The man of the group plunked himself at the table, in handy reach of the fresh cherries that had just been washed and prepared for eating. He helped himself to several cherries at a time, popped them in his mouth, chewed lustily and then spit the pits out onto the white table cloth. Again and again he helped himself, urging other members of his family to join him in the fruit feast. I watched in horror as the supply dwindled.
Nary a word was said by the parents about his poor behaviour because he was a guest in our home, it was explained to me later. Nor did the parents comment when he said his family doesn’t buy fruit because it is too expensive. I found out in later life that he was a cheap, cheap (not thrifty) individual.
When the fruit bowl was empty, he then proceeded to ask my Mom what she was planning for supper. I don’t recall the answer but his family stayed and ate well before they left, leaving empty bowls and dirty dishes behind.
But I do remember visiting his home and not being offered a slice of bread even though the aroma of a turkey cooking in the oven permeated their house when we arrived. Instead of turkey with his family, we had hamburgers and Vi-Co at a nearby coffee shop, a much happier meal in my recollection.
We did, however, have the last laugh at our relative’s expense: He didn’t know it but we had a box of cherries and some grapes in our car. It might not have been friendly of us, but no one offered to share with him.
Joyce Walter can be reached at email@example.com
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.