Sunday, September 24, 2006


This is a dangerous fruit.

I first encountered one while walking on the shores of the Aegean with my mother. Having been thwarted by figs just beyond our reach, scarlet flesh taunting from burst blue-black skin, my mothers ecstatic exclamations at these rather scary looking things seemed a bit exaggerated.

However, Swiss Army knives at the ready and armed with discarded newspapers, we went hunting in the thickets for the perfect specimens. My mother looked at them, red-orange and armed with spines and spikes (the hunted, not the huntress), and knew exactly what attitude to take with them. Holding them firmly in hands protected by newspaper, she rubbed them vigourously, periodically shaking out the fine shimmering dust that came away in the paper, and being careful not to get any on herself.

When that was done, still protected by the paper, she cut around the north and south poles of the oval fruit and then cut down the Greenwich meridian. Carefully peeling away the skin away from the center line, mom revealed the fruit within.

She then cut a slice for me speared it with the point of the knife and handed it to me. Sweet and wet and filled with lots of large, unforgiving seed, they were perfect food on a hot Greek summer's day. We ate our spoils and all was well with the world until I started to talk.

There must have been some fine, hair-like spines that had stuck to the knife and had wiped off onto the very first chunk. From the knife they had lodged themselves in the middle of my tongue and, though they didn't hurt, they were incredibly irritating, and not something that I wanted in my mouth longer than necessary. So my mom took out the knife again, pulled out the trusty little tweezers and told me to "say ahhhhhh..."

I looked rather foolish, I am sure, standing in the middle of a well frequented path, with my mother playing doctor and alternating between trying to get a hold of the spines with the tweezers, and trying to scrape them of with the knife.

(This isn't my tongue - just an example...)

She managed to get the majority of the spines out, but one or two remained in, bakig be dak lhaik dis undihl dey disohlb'd.

I learned my lesson, but being a bit of a rebel, that doesn't stop me from dancing with the devil and eating sabra's with abandon when they are in season!


veuveclicquot said...

Ouch ouch ouch! Hope your tongue feels better... :-P

aja said...

Hey VC, Tongue & leg fine - brain confused - but that is a permanent state of affairs 8^) They have a "spineless wonder" variety here that is almost, but not quite, harmless. Usually I only get spiked in the fingers, and manage to get them out. The trick is using a credit card to swipe them out.

burekaboy — said...

it seems ur mom had previous experience with these fruit cause that's how i learned to cut them at home. i am not SUCH a fan of sabra as i cannot stand those hard seeds.

aja, i would worry if that were ur tongue as the person in it has stubble. LOL LOL LOL. unless, of course, you suffer from extra testosterone flowing thru ur veins.
i would then gracefully [or is it disgracefully] apologize for my comment here.

do u know about how the kibbutznikim used pick the sabra? i'm sure u do but if u don't... they used to attach an empty can to a long stick and harvest them that way, prodding them off as they dropped into the can. quite ingenious, i think.

burekaboy — said...

adding ....

why are those fruit different colours? differing degrees of ripeness? that's way cool.

also, OUCH !!! i remember getting those little suckers on my fingers cause they didn't clean the fruit totally when i picked them up at the grocers. i was itching for a day or two. it was so incredibly irritating. i CANNOT imagine on my tongue. i woulda done a tongue-ectomy, i think.

aja said...

Hey BB,
That was actually the prettiest picture of a tongue I could find without taking out my camera and trying to take a selfportrait. As I said, no relation to mine... and no fears about the testosterone

Those are different kinds of sabra I think. And no, I didn't know that's how they used to be harvested - I just went around my kibbutz with a plastic bag and a newspaper. I agree though that their way is pretty ingenious. And I agree, I was pretty keen on the idea of a lingual amputation 8^P