Grapes 6/17/22

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

As I write this, yes, I’m eating grapes.  Grapes, widely beloved by so many people, have been a fan favorite for years.  In the late 19th century London, a murderer (or murderers) was taking women and slaughtering them in a series of unsolved crimes later to be referred to as the “Jack the Ripper” murders.  Oh, you already knew that?  Well, did you know that when police went to the locations where the women were suspected of having been taken from, they always found grape stems?  Back then, grapes were known, but hard to get, very expensive and therefore uncommon among the common populace.  It’s believed that the perpetrator offered the victims a little branch of these delicious treats and promised them more back at his house. 

Back in the ‘90’s, a doctor (a.k.a. moron) told me on the phone that I’m diabetic and should not eat any sugar.  He was wrong, of course.  As it turns out, I am just naturally sweet.  He never offered any training or additional information on the diet that I should try.  As such, I just cut out sugar.  Well, processed sugar, anyway.  I stopped drinking normal pop, and started drinking Diet Coke, the only diet soda that had a strong enough flavor (in my opinion) to at least partially cover up the chemical taste of artificial sweetener.  Today, I’m still addicted to the stuff, and drink it every day, not because I like it but because I start having withdraw symptoms when I stop (headaches, crankiness, exhaustion, and so on). 

The other thing I cut out was candy and cookies.  Instead, fruit, like grapes, became my “sweet treat”.  Okay, good news first.  Yes, it means I gave up processed sugar, and started eating a healthier form of sugar that also has other nutrients.  Now for the bad news.  It’s still sugar.  Yes, it’s unprocessed, and it’s not sucrose, but there are many different sugars and sucrose is just one of them (the form of sugar that is used as table sugar).  The main sugar in fruits is, indeed, fructose, and for a diabetic, it has the same effect as sucrose on blood sugar.

It probably actually did save my life.  I was taking in so few carbohydrates that I was becoming hypoglycemic, meaning with dangerously low blood sugar.  The fructose in grapes and other fruits undoubtedly boosted my blood sugar when I needed it the most, but my diet was still out of balance.  It wasn’t until I found a new doctor (physician assistant, actually) that specialized in diabetes that I had the proper training and information I needed to actually fight it.  I mean, become less sweet than I was.

Grapes are so versatile.  Yes, stomp on them and add microbes and it ferments and makes wine.  Distill the grape wine and you get cognac and burgundy.  But I’ve already told you what happens when I’m drunk so it’s probably better if I stay away from the devil’s juice. 

There was a great movie from about forty years ago (give or take) about a very eccentric young man and his love interest who was autistic.  In a wonderful scene that took place in a diner, she said, “I don’t like raisins.  They’re just humiliated grapes.”  Yup, dry out grapes and you have raisins.  I’m told (but haven’t tried it yet) that if you sun-dry your own grapes, they come out with a coating of sugar crystals on the outside and is presumably far more delicious than store-bought. 

Writing this, I just realized that there is no grape pie.  We have apple pie, cherry pie, peach cobbler and even banana cream pie, but no grape.  Why is there no grape pie?  And would it be white grapes, or red grapes? 

Having been invited to a Native American Sundance (their religious ceremony as I understand it), I watched as the Native people danced, continuously, throughout this ninety plus degree day.  What’s more, they fast throughout the day regardless of the number of times they dance or other activities.  At the end of the day, once the sun sets, they’re allowed to eat and recoup.  Fried flatbread (which is delicious by the way) is one of the favorite foods after the Sundance (at least in the Rosebud tribe).  The other is watermelon.  The reason is simple.  Watermelon is rich in sugar and water, so eating it not only replaces water in the system (and electrolytes if they add salt), and the fructose helps bring their sugar levels back up.  No, not grapes, but I love watermelon, too. 

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