by Carol Dunn
HUERFANO — It’s concord grape season at last. We have had our grape vines for seven years and have never seen more than five or six grapes each fall. Not that the birds ate them, because I don’t think the birds around here are interested in grapes. They gorge themselves on peaches and are all fruited out at this point. No, the stalks just never produced grapes – until this year. The vines are loaded with grapes, and I feel like a kid again.
Growing up, we always had loads of grapes. The stalks were old and grizzled, and Dad had them trained on a seven-foot-tall arbor. The grapes hung down all over the arbor just like in a Norman Rockwell painting. We kids would sit on the ground under the arbor and eat grapes until we couldn’t force another one into our mouths. And even at an early age, a kid with a grape arbor learns the right way to eat concord grapes. Because no matter how ripe they are, they are tart. So just in case you have concord grapes this year, I am going to provide a lesson on how to eat concord grapes.
First, pull a ripe grape off the bunch. There will be a little hole where it was formerly attached. Point this little hole directly toward your throat and grasp the grape gently between your teeth. Now close your lips around the grape and squeeze while hanging on to the skin. Suck the insides from the grape and swallow, squeezing the skin to get every juicy bit of the grapey flavor. It’s kind of like eating monkey eyeballs, if you’ve ever done that. Then toss the skin. But don’t toss it on the floor because if you step on it, you will have purple spots every 33 inches all around your house. If you want to chew up the skin just to see what it tastes like. Go ahead. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Now we come to the part which made me think to write this article in the first place. If you get real busy eating grapes, you don’t look them over very carefully. And once in a while, you will feel something not quite as slimy as the seeds roll across your tongue on the way to your esophagus – a little grainy and rough. That would be a worm and its associated debris. By the time you realize what it was, it’s too late. It’s on its way to your stomach, where the hydrochloric acid will kill it. So don’t think about it, and don’t let it interrupt the pleasure of eating your grapes. This truly is a rare joy in Huerfano County, worm and all.