Is life a bowl of cherries? A bowlful of the bright red fruit is pleasant to look at, to be sure, and even better to eat. But I have a feeling that the person that came up with the expression was not a germophobe. If I have a bowl of cherries or any other fruit, a goodly amount of work must be done before I can enjoy their sweetness. But why?
Someone with OCD always has to think about the history of an object, even fruit, especially fruit, as it is usually eaten without the reassurance of high-heat cooking. There are germs running rampant on a piece of fruit. Most fruit comes from an orchard or a field, where hired hands come in for the harvesting. How many of them wash after using the portable toilet? How many use a toilet at all? A close friend observed a farm worker squatting behind a building, easing nature. And then there is fertilizer to add to the germ stew. Yes, fruit is rife with germs. It’s a wonder that I can bring myself to eat it at all, but my love of fresh fruit is strong. I had to devise a way to cope.
Here is my procedure to get fruit from bowl to mouth. The easiest method I have found is to place the fruit to be washed in a small colander. At one time I used only a washing solution manufactured solely for produce. The solution foamed up nicely, but I wanted more. I wanted germ-killing action. Now I use a 50/50 mix of washing solution and vinegar. It doesn’t smell great, but it’s worth the peace of mind it imparts. I pour the mixture into a cup and add a little water from the faucet to make suds. Next, I pour the sudsy liquid over the fruit, while shaking the colander to rotate the fruit and ensure thorough cleaning. I continue filling the cup until there are no more suds. Then I rinse and repeat. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) And I repeat. And if it’s fruit that has a rough exterior (think kiwifruit) or grows close to the ground, e.g., strawberries, it gets some more rinsing. Only after that procedure can I then use an inverted plastic baggie to eat the fruit – just as nature intended!
Melons are in a category by themselves. Two things make them particularly challenging to clean: their size and growing in the dirt. Strawberries grow on the ground, but they are small and can be given extra attention in the colander. Melons require a much larger colander. I buy the smallest melons that I can find, but they are still too heavy to hold with one hand. I have to put one in the colander and prop the colander against the side of the sink, then dump the sudsy, disinfecting solution over it many times. Ever wary of bacteria, I finish it off with a spray of alcohol once it is on the counter. With the melon resting on a stack of paper towels, I put on gloves to cut it open, because the melon is too large to jostle in the colander and the bottom doesn’t get clean. I slice through it, taking care not to let the knife touch the inside of the melon once it gets to the unclean outer bottom portion. After that is done, I can remove one glove and eat the melon with a spoon, while stabilizing it with the remaining gloved hand.
In contrast to the extensive cleaning described above, I recall the time when I ate some figs that were sitting out in a colander, only to realize later that they hadn’t yet been washed. I wanted to scour out my mouth. My only consolation was that I was fairly certain that they had come from a person’s private tree, not a farm, so perhaps the person picking the figs had washed first. Please let it be so!
And that is a germophobe’s bowl of cherries.