by Matthew J.X. Malady
People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, writer and editor Joe Veix tells us more about what it was like to have lived 26 years without eating any fruit.
I’m 26 and have never eaten fruit, AMA!
— Joe Veix (@joeveix) April 24, 2014
Joe! So what happened here?
It’s true, I’ve never eaten fruit. I’ve had avocados and tomatoes, but I’ve been told those “don’t count.” I’ve also never had juice, though I do drink red wine. That’s technically juice, right?
To be clear, I’m not just being picky. I’m an open-minded guy and like to try everything once. I just get nauseated about even thinking of eating fruit. I’m not sure why. I used to get sick a lot when I was younger, so my theory is that I probably attempted to eat fruit while ill and my brain associated those two things — like how if you get food poisoning after eating salmon rolls, for two and a half decades of your life you won’t be able to stomach seafood or sail a boat or look at the ocean.
But it hasn’t been too difficult for me. I think part of the reason I’ve gotten so far into my life without having to actually confront this is that it’s been easy to avoid fruit. Our country is very unhealthy, and most fruit comes in candy form. (I should mention, I’ve never had candy fruit.)
It’s only ever been socially awkward. For example, if someone brings something with fruit in it to a dinner party and they offer it to me, and I refuse to try it, they get really offended. I then have to explain this whole weird thing to people I just met, and then they think I’m fucking with them, and then usually everyone at the party will just start listing different fruits. “What about apples?” “No.” “Oranges?” “No.” “Jujubes?” “No!”
I’ve frequently been offered money in exchange for trying fruit — on one occasion as much as $500. But my dignity is not for sale!
There was also one time a few years ago when I was working as a production assistant for a TV show, and I had to pick up groceries for the office. I didn’t know what a lot of fruits on my list actually looked like — I have no fruit buying experience — and the supermarket didn’t have any identifying signs.
I was too embarrassed to ask anyone for help, so I used my phone to Google image search all of the fruits. I creeped out a few nice elderly ladies who saw me very sternly holding my phone in front of each basket of fruit, one by one. After I couldn’t confirm the difference between lemons and limes, I had to send a photo to my then-girlfriend to get confirmation. It was a close call.
Also, if I go to a birthday party and the cake turns out to have fruit in it, that’s terrible. Because I love cake.
I realize it’s mostly psychosomatic, but the nausea is so bad that I sometimes get grossed out just by the scent of fruit. If someone starts peeling an orange on the subway I’ll have to switch cars, or risk vomiting.
Despite this, it was my New Year’s resolution to try fruit.
Whoa. But as much as it would be interesting to keep the whole “no fruit thing” going forever and perhaps achieve some sort of record, it’s probably not the worst thing in the world that you’ve gotten to a point where you may be ready for some changes. Could you do me a favor and try some grapes, a few mango chunks, a slice of apple, a kiwi, and a peach right now for the first time and let me know what you think?
Sure! I enlisted my friend Jenny as my “fruit ambassador,” because I don’t know how to pick out fruit or how to go about slicing and peeling it. I might accidentally eat a core or a sticker. In the grocery store, Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” started playing while we felt peaches, which I took to be a good omen.
In addition to fruit, I got a bar of dark, spicy chocolate as a palate cleanser and a 22-ounce beer to ease my nerves.
1. Grapes (seedless, red)
I started with one that was pea-sized. It had a plastic texture, like the smooth side of a Lego. I chewed and swallowed it without a problem, so I tried a bigger one. When I bit down it exploded in my mouth, which surprised me so much that I yelled “ew.” Eating it felt like chewing on grass that was wrapped around chilled mucus.
2. Champagne Mango
My friend showed me her elaborate grid cutting system for mangos, while explaining that her mother used to say that “mangos are the apples of the Philippines.” The analogy was lost on me. I excitedly took a bite, and violently gagged. I somehow managed to choke it down. It tasted like stomach acid. I don’t remember anything else about it. It’s possible I blacked out. The whole thing was basically a core, too, like how a potato chip bag is mostly air. What a huge rip-off. Fuck mangos, man.
3. Apple (Fuji)
I ate a slice, and it didn’t taste like much — like damp cardboard. Bland and crunchy. The juice kind of grossed me out, but I didn’t mind the taste and texture overall. I could see myself enjoying it on a salad, or maybe in a pie. Feeling empowered, I bit straight into that sucker, which felt oddly satisfying.
This is my friend’s “top five favorite fruit.” Based on how it looked, and still reeling from my mango failure, I was very nervous. The piece that she cut for me had the look and texture of green sashimi, with seeds that looked like specks of dirt. But I actually enjoyed my first bite. I ate two more pieces, and really liked them too. I kept smiling about it, and my friend pointed out that I had seeds in my teeth, but I didn’t even care, I was so happy about kiwis.
I was skeptical about peaches (re: mango PTSD). The slice tasted similar to the apple, though the skin was pleasantly bitter. Like the kiwi, I was able to eat it without any issues. I asked my friend to demonstrate how she would “casually” eat a peach, like a normal person on the bus, and then I copied her — chewing like I imagined James Dean would — and we talked about politics.
Lesson Learned, if any?
Fruit is actually pretty good! (Except for mangos.) I know it’s a cliche, but you really have to overcome your fears and try new things, even if those things make you vomit, because life is short, and probably even shorter if you don’t eat fruit.
Just one more thing.
I’m very excited and optimistic about my new lifestyle. I’ve opened up an entire chamber of the food pyramid! I can now drink all sorts of fancy cocktails and smoothies! I could get a new wardrobe! The whole world is brimming with delicious, juicy possibilities.