Grinder’s own James Norton, writing on the Minneapolis City Pages’ Twin Cities Eater blog, has a bone to pick with America’s restaurateurs. Namely, the current status of the side dish known optimistically as “mixed fruit.” Norton writes:
For years, if not decades, a high percentage of low-to-mid-ranged casual eateries have offered ‘mixed fruit’ as a side option with a salad or sandwich. Coleslaw, fries, or mixed fruit.
And for years, if not decades, a high percentage of so-called ‘mixed fruit’ sides have arrived at the table as little tiny cups filled to the brim with pieces of melon and one or two red grapes.
As Norton points out, “mostly melon” is not equivalent to “mixed fruit.” “Mixed fruit” makes one think of, oh, perhaps some sliced strawberries, a few banana chunks, maybe a blueberry or two. Why not just give in and call what is usually offered a “melon cup” or “melon with a couple grapes”? Because, Norton says, “Melon, outside of its native season and growing zone, should not be eaten, and everybody knows this. It is a bad fruit. Nobody likes it, it’s dumb, and it irritates the roof of your mouth.”
Clearly, restaurants choose melon because it’s hardy. A whole melon lasts longer than a bunch of strawberries, and even when sliced, melon doesn’t brown. But there’s no need to use premium fruit, Norton argues. “Use nice old affordable bananas (until they go extinct on us) and apples. Use a few more grapes. Throw in some basically free torn up bits of mint leaves. Even watermelon would be a nice change from the honeydew and cantaloupe that so rudely dominate our side servings of fruit.”
Maybe it’s time for a mixed fruit revolution.