Other than my mother, my greatest cooking influence has been my paternal grandmother. Words fail me in expressing how much I loved that woman. What’s weird is that in the year since her passing, I feel that I have come to know her on a deeper level. And I’ve realized that we are the same person. I’m like her, resurrected. You see, we never intersected as adults. It was always her taking care of me, usually by feeding me, hugging me, or nuzzling me closely. I had not developed into who I am today, at all, during these times. She was warm, brimming to the edges with love, vibrant, deeply artistic and creative, and lived life to the absolute fullest, permanently in a state of alive-ness. But her most defining quality was that she lovedlovedloved to cook and subsequently, eat. She threw it down in the kitchen and on the table.
She used to feed me grapefruits or in Spanish, toronjas, as a child. She used to cut them in half, sprinkle them with sugar, and serve them to me with the only utensil grapefruits should be eaten with, a serrated spoon (or a spife…? sporks exists, why not spifes?). Although many people stray away from grapefruits, I love their acrid sweet taste. I used to scoop the juicy, red, glittering flesh out of each crevice, then back around again, and messily squeeze the juice of each half straight into my mouth.
To this day, she enters my mind instantly at the sight of a grapefruit. And even now, at 26, I eat them exactly the same way I always have. Recently though, I decided to up the ante a little. I had hesitated for a little while, not wanting to tarnish the perfect food memory my grandmother had created. But I always wondered what broiling the grapefruit would create. And now I dont want to eat them any other way. Warming them up softens not only their texture but their flavor. The sprinkled sugar caramelizes, hence the “brulee” nomenclature. Their juiciness is strongly enhanced; their meat scoops out easier, showcasing plumped and jewel-like pulp.
It’s like a more modern form of eating a grapefruit. Similar to how I’m the more modern version of my grandmother. How fitting.
Note: Bon Appetit suggests using a kitchen torch to brulee the grapefruit. This could work too. But not everyone has a kitchen torch. Broilers work fantastically as well. Use either.
2 teaspoons sugar (use any type of sugar you have: brown, turbinado, granulated)
Dash cinnamon or ground ginger, optional but good
Spife (serrated spoon, to eat with)
Cut grapefruit in half. Cut the bottom of each half slightly so it can rest sturdily without toppling over. Sprinkle each half with one teaspoon sugar.
Set grapefruit, cut side up, under the broiler in an oven proof pan or sheet. Broil for 5-10 minutes, until sugar is caramelized and grapefruit is warm. The pith might burn a little and get black, but that’s okay, you’re not eating that part. Sprinkle with spices if desired.
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