sweet peel


memory of thanksgiving sways by now to a blur. but for stephanie's keen remembrance of a meal gone by, i wouldn't know from shigoku oysters, or champagne, early (?) alzheimers...


nor of duck pate on squid ink tagliatellini, square cut pieces of halibut rolled in pimento and butter, celeriac mash and bing crosby chestnuts. i can however tell of grapefruit and its lusciously candied rind, a recipe done often, back when in new york. it took then for ever, as it did now. never mind hours, these sweets took days to tender and thicken and gel and eventually jell. rolled in granular sugar, thrice, crisp to the bite yet pulpous and pious, soft past the initial crunch, neither too sweet, nor bitter or acrid, but sensuously coveting of a grapefruit's scent.
directions are quick reading and easy to follow, the doing however takes time, just that, and not in a hurried way. two whole grapefruit, i used texas red. quartered, fruit served at breakfast, peel and zest cut into narrow strips, they say half inch, i say pointy, skinny and fat. as in life, the skinny turn snappy, piquant, as the fat turn racily pungent, zesty and plump, all a great mix in the end. cover the peel, the half inch or fat, in plenty of cold water, bring to a rolling boil, and roil, say ten minutes. discard the water and start up again, cold, and again, and again, and, as per dianna krall, just do it again. you won't regret it, as the taste turns from overwhelmingly bitter to agreeably mild and pleasantly sweet. place the drained rind back to the pan in a mixed cup of half sugar, half water. i used sake instead of the water. wouldn't you know. bring the mix to a boil and reduce the liquid till the pan is dry, stirring, most often towards the end as juices dwindle. i repeat this step, sake redux eventually adds a sense of umame to such rinds.


go spend a week and a half on maui and leave the wet mess in a ziplock, bottom right of the fridge. or you could just stay home and watch the icebox running, anyway, after said week and a half drain the lot over night and next day roll each sleek sliver in crisp sugar to dry, well separated, on a rack. do it again, on a towel, to dry for another day. on my end it was wednesday night i gave them the final roll in granular sugar, and by thanksgiving morn the limp had turned stiff, and deliciously fleshy, delectably tender, and, like me, as of late, plump and crusty. so much for a touch of the final desert. some single malt, then, round midnight, and another peel, of a varied kind.