By Mordechai Schmutter

 

If there’s one bad thing you can say about fruits and vegetables, it’s that there are no new products out there. Fruit is fruit. It was here long before we were, and it will be here long after we’re gone, especially that spaghetti squash my wife bought that’s been sitting on our kitchen table for a year. There’s no new fruit, except Rosh Hashanah time.

Fortunately, scientists are attempting to fix that.

For example, a few months ago, scientists developed an onion that doesn’t cause tears, which is very beneficial to people who get all emotional about their onions. The new onions, called Sunions, would replace all the tactics that we’ve been using to not cry until now, from chewing gum to holding our breath to using onion powder. And in one yeshiva I went to, the cook attempted to solve this issue by just tossing whole onions into the chicken soup, where they would bob like kneidlach and fool the unsuspecting new guys.

See, a few years ago, scientists in Japan discovered the enzyme in onions that makes people cry. The enzyme, which I looked up, is called “lachrymatory factor synthase,” which is pretty catchy, although it might have lost something in translation from Japanese. This is an enzyme that onions developed to protect themselves from being eaten by any organism without access to goggles.

The way it works is that the enzyme wafts up and enters your tear ducts to combine with whatever tears you have on reserve, and the combination causes a burning sensation, causing you to produce more tears to wash that away, and those tears burn too, because you’re still cutting onions. Of course. The crying definitely doesn’t make you cut faster. Then you try to wipe it away with your hands, which is a huge mistake, because those are the same hands you’re using to cut the onions. You need a second person on standby with a hanky.

But now that we know what the enzyme is, we’re able to produce onions that don’t make people cry, the same way we produce tearless shampoo (Now with fewer onions!), watermelons without seeds, and those cucumbers that you don’t have to peel.

And that’s not the only new development in produce. A company in Japan has developed bananas that have a peel that you can eat. No more will you have to fritter away valuable time peeling all your ridiculous bananas.

The company had been working on this for four decades, apparently. I personally didn’t even realize that the peel was a problem. It’s not like I’m using a peeler. And every fruit has a peel. The peel protects the fruit until you’re ready to eat it. Do you know how many people touch your apple before you eat it? Me neither. But nobody touches your banana.

And I’m sure the gorilla world is ecstatic. If gorillas have no problem peeling bananas with their feet, I’m not sure why we need to be spending so much money on this.

Maybe they’re trying to change bananas’ image. No one ever looks happy eating a banana. Everyone looks slightly depressed and bored. Anybody smiling while eating a banana is probably a lunatic.

So this helps.

But apparently the problem with bananas was that the peels weren’t edible. Most fruits have edible peels, except on Pesach. Even kiwi peels are edible, if you want to feel like you’re eating a tennis ball. Even orange peels are edible by people who want to make candy out of actual fruit because they clearly don’t understand how candy works.

“What?” they’re asking. “All candy is garbage!”

But no one is making candied banana peels. And my question is, “Why not?” I think someone should try making it once and let me know how it turns out.

Quick question: If we start selling bananas that you don’t have to peel, won’t we have to start selling them in some kind of package to protect them, which you would then have to peel open and discard somewhere that people won’t fall on them?

The bananas retail for $6 each, which is crazy, but such is the price of technology: money. Money is the price.

I personally haven’t had one, because they’re currently available in only one store in Japan. But according to reports, “The peel itself doesn’t have any real flavor, but at least it doesn’t feel like it’s in the way.” So that’s worth it, for $6 a banana. For 33 cents, you can get a banana with a peel that you have to throw away, but for $6, you get one with a peel that is, quote, “flavorless but unobtrusive.” And which, if you put the banana down in front of your guest and don’t say anything, he will still peel and throw away, and you’ll have to fish the peel out of the garbage and eat it yourself, for $6. And if you try to explain to him beforehand that he should eat the peel, there is no way he’s not going to think you’re trying to prank him.

And yes, $6 sounds crazy, but I paid $6 for a new fruit just last month. Of course, mine was for a mitzvah, and it was way cheaper than the esrog I bought two weeks later. So I don’t know if we as Jews are ones to talk about people who want to find excuses to spend large amounts of money on fruit.

The way they do it is they grow the bananas in negative-75-degree temperatures to a certain point, then thaw them out and replant them in warmer climates. Such are the wonders of modern technology. In the old days, before freezers, they would have had to schlep the trees from the North Pole to the tropics, and the average scientist could maybe do one of these trips in his entire life. He would basically give up his life for this banana, and it would cost you like $6, which was way more in those days.

That is some trial and error they had to go through before they came up with this, though. I wonder how many non-edible banana peels they had to try eating, over 40 years, before finally coming up with one that worked.

This doesn’t really seem like it was worth it. I mean, from what I’ve read, bananas used to have a crazy number of hard, pomegranate-like seeds. Can we just appreciate that they don’t for two seconds before complaining about how they come individually wrapped for our protection?

Also, there are so many life hacks involving banana peels. Why on earth would we want to get rid of them? How are you supposed to buff out scratches in your CDs, shine your shoes, get rid of warts and acne, diminish wrinkles, relieve itches, get rid of ink marks on skin, remove splinters, whiten your teeth, make your house smell vaguely of bananas, chase away neighbors, and be known as the banana guy?

Better to be the guy who pops entire bananas into his mouth in public.

And speaking of new fruit innovations that nobody asked for, someone has also developed pit-less avocadoes.

“Then how do they grow new ones?” you’re asking. That is not your problem. I’m still not sure how they grow bananas.

Getting rid of avocado pits might sound silly, but they did it with watermelons, and the only downside is that no one has watermelon-spitting contests anymore. Or was that an upside? Were people having avocado-spitting contests?

They’re actually growing the avocados without the pits, which sounds a lot more complicated than just de-pitting them at the farm and stuffing entire pimentos into the holes.

The avocados are grown in Spain, and are usually available in December, so get ready. Most of them are sent to Paris, though, where chefs use them in high-end restaurants. Though I’m not sure why. How is the high-end customer supposed to know whether or not there was a pit that was removed in the kitchen? I eat in low-end restaurants, and when I get guacamole, they don’t bring it to me with the pit in it.

How about making an avocado or banana that’s the perfect eating consistency for more than ten minutes? That would be worth some extra money.

Officially, they’re touting the new avocados as being “safer.” And they are. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put the pit in my mouth by accident and almost choked on it — just blindly shoveling fistfuls of avocado into my mouth, and “Wait, what’s that?” and then I spit out a pit the size of a golf ball. “Whoa, I almost swallowed it! That was close.”

But the safety aspect they’re talking about more likely has something to do with people cutting themselves while trying to remove the pits. Personally, I always use the pit as a safety barrier. I think the fact that we’re now living in a world where some avocados have pits and some do not is even worse for our hands. I’ve never cut myself slicing an avocado. Though I have cut myself chopping onions with my eyes closed.

And actually, the last time I cut my hand preparing vegetables, I was slicing cherry tomatoes. So now I’m thinking: Why not develop something like cherry tomatoes, but bigger? I’ll be waiting by the phone.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of six books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to MSchmutter@gmail.com.

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