When I was ten we did a history project at school about Christopher Columbus sailing off around the world to look for India, and accidentally discovering the West Indies. I don’t remember much about it, but I do remember that if you don’t want to end up like a sailor with all the diseased gums and falling-out teeth of scurvy, then you need to eat lots of fruit and vegetables.
Unfortunately, some of the best kinds of fruits and veggies around require warmth and sunshine, two things that are somewhat lacking on this chilly, rainy rock that I call home. Actually we are allowed to experience some of the more exotic produce, since the invention of the refrigerated truck allows for fruit to be picked off a tree in Spain, or Portugal, or Turkey, before it is driven the many miles to a coast, loaded on to a boat, sailed across the sea, put on another truck, and delivered to another refrigeration unit inside a supermarket, where we buy it and take it with us to ‘ripen at home’.
Magic. Or not.
As it happens there are two downsides to this madness:
- Ripening at home can take longer than you might think – two weeks ago my Dad bought two avocado pears in order to make guacamole to accompany the chilli we were having for tea; today the avos were finally ripe enough to make guac for our fajitas.
- When the things finally arrive they taste remarkably un-like the fruits or vegetables that they purport to be: for instance, I didn’t used to like watermelon very much, because though it looked beautiful, it just tasted like water, and then I moved to a country where there is sunshine and heat to grow such things, and it turns out that watermelon really is lovely. Who knew?
So, I continue to avoid the dreaded sailor disease by eating British-grown sources of vitamin C (dull though they are), and imported delicacies (tasteless though they are); but my taste buds yearn for warmer, sunnier climes.
In summary: complaining.