If there’s any truth to the conventional wisdom that three is a trend, then I must hereby declare this the season for writing about cutting up fruit as an act of love, a.k.a. “cut fruit summer.”
This is based on three data points. First came an essay titled “A Bowl of Cut Fruits Is How Asian Moms Say: I Love You” in Taste back in April, a prelude to the thick of “cut fruit summer” that we now find ourselves in. Then came the beautifully written “How the simple art of cutting fruit can be an act of love” in the Washington Post, published on July 25. A few days later, Bon Appetit’s Healthyish unveiled its own take, “If I’m Cutting Fresh Fruit for Dessert, I Probably Love You,” complete with a photo of mouthwateringly red strawberries and an intriguing suggestion of fruit seasoned with chaat masala.
Now allow me to outline the basics of “cut fruit summer,” as extrapolated from that seemingly relatable experience of being handed a bowl of carefully sliced fruit by family members who leave the words “I love you” unspoken in favor of more tangible actions:
1. Next time your parents hand you an apple that’s not pre-sliced, you’ll know exactly how they feel about you.
2. The longer it takes to prepare and present a fruit, the more love and care it’s infused with. Blueberries dumped straight from a carton into your waiting mouth? Negligible love. Whole coconuts that require a toolbox to get at the sweet flesh inside? Overflowing love!
3. Candid verbal endearments are overrated. Life would be so much easier if we could express all manners of emotion through the proffering of different foods — for example, beets to communicate hatred, potatoes for sensual desire.
4. No pie, no cake, no cookies for a sweet treat, only fruit!!!
5. The worst part about growing up and leaving home is no longer having someone to cut fruit for you. Now I have to rely on the grocery store and its aisles of pre-packaged, pre-cut pineapples for any semblance of affection in my solitary existence.
Ethnic parents cutting up fruit and bringing it to their kids without being asked has got to be one of the purest gestures of love ever— trasha (@sashatsay) December 6, 2018
With all three cut fruit essays coming out in roughly the same three-month period — one of warmer weather, longer days, and sun-ripened fruits — it’s almost like food writing’s own version of the “wife guy” news cycle (only without the pressing timeliness of a nascent internet cultural phenomenon coming into its own). Perhaps that speaks to the universality of the cut fruit story, and the desire to see more of the personal experiences that shape our relationships with food and with loved ones reflected in the broader media. Maybe it’s confirmation that we’re all just telling the same stories over and over; like a perfect fruit salad, it’s the shades of variation that make each meaningful, even among the familiar emotional beats.
Or perhaps it’s evidence that there really is something in the air this summer, a honeyed scent tinged by lush fruit and a ripe longing for home wafting on the breeze. The season may be fleeting, but cut fruit summer is forever.