Monday, April 8, 2019

G is for the Grapefruit Guys (A to Z Challenge 2019: Fruit Folktales)

I only recently learned that grapefruit is not a naturally occurring citrus, but rather, an accidental hybrid of sweet orange and pomelo, originating from Barbados. Which is neat, because here is a grapefruit folktale from another Caribbean country, the Dominican Republic.

The story begins with a man and his only daughter, Siriaca, whom he sends to the Mountain of Three Grapefruits. On the way the girl encounters an old woman, who tells her the mountain is guarded by three lions; if their eyes are open, they are asleep, but if their eyes are closed, they are awake. Armed with this essential knowledge, Siriaca gets to the mountain, picks three grapefruits, and starts on her way home.

As she is walking along, she decides to burn one of the grapefruits, for whatever reason. The fruit burns, and a prince jumps out, greeting her. Siriaca is so stunned, she remains silent, and eventually the prince disappears. A little later she tries a second time, and a second prince pops out of the grapefruit, but when he tries to talk to her, she remains awkwardly quiet. The whole thing repeats the third time, and she gets home with no grapefruits and no princes. (Introvert problems, amirite?). However, before they all disappear (or, as I imagine it, awkwardly shuffle off), the princes tell her that if she ever needs help, she can call on them.

When Siriaca gets home, her mother asks her where she's been. She tells the whole story, and the mother gets so angry (I suppose for letting three princes go) that she beats her, and ties her to a pole under the burning sun. Siriaca eventually remembers to call to the princes ("Princes of the Three Flowers of Alexandria, come to me!"). One of the grapefruit princes does appear, and asks her what's wrong, but once again, the girl is dumbstruck. The prince rescues her anyway, and spirits her away to a place where he says he is about to have a wedding with someone else. They light a candle for the wedding, and as Siriaca sees the candle, she finally says "my heart is like that candle." With the awkward silence broken, the grapefruit prince marries her.

The beginning of this story is essentially a gender-bent version of The Love of Three Oranges (ATU 408). In this tale type, it is usually a guy who picks three fruits, and opens each up, but only manages to keep the last lady of the three. The folktale exists in many cultures, and the "fruit" can be apples, oranges, lemons, pomegranates, figs, or even - in Hungarian versions - eggs, reeds, or oak branches. 

(You can find this story in this book.)

What would you say if a prince popped out of your grapefruit at lunch?
What would a grapefruit prince even look like?...


  1. Because of my medication, I can't eat grapefruit. I used to love it.

  2. haha if i had a grapefruit prince man i think i might have a heartattack :) i never heard that grapefruit were a hybrid. i always learn great things from your blog!

    Joy at The Joyous Living

  3. I hadn’t realised that about grapefruit! My mother has a grapefruit tree, but I’m the only one who eats them. They clash with her medication and nobody else likes them.

    I tend to eat them for breakfast or squeeze them for juice and never, ever burn them, so I would be embarrassed in my dressing gown when the Prince appeared!

  4. I cant imagine how a grapefruit prince would look like. But would ask a boon to have my table full of food
    Ready for every meal without me cooking.

  5. Mm... Would it be considered cannibalism if you eat the grapefruit a prince popped out of?

    Ronel visiting from the A-Z Challenge with Music and Writing: Grr...

  6. Personally, I'd rather a princess popped out of my grapefruit!

    My A-Z of Children's Stories

  7. Hard to imagine why anyone would take it into their head to burn a grapefruit they'd specifically been sent to fetch, but then it occurred to me that when you break the peel of citrus fruits so the oil spritzes out, it's flammable. Maybe Siriaca was just conducting a little science experiment (as you do) and it just got out of hand (as science experiments do).
    Black and White: G is for Gnome

  8. I love grapefruit, but like others here, can't eat it because of medication. I miss grapefruit juice.

    I would NEVER add sugar like in the photo!

    I can't imagine a full sized prince, I can only visualize a teeny one coming out of the grapefruit! I'd think he was an earwig and probably scream and grab him in a paper towel to dispose of!
    But, here he must have appeared from the smoke, fully formed. I wonder why she burnt the grapefruit? Heard a prince would appear? To keep warm?

  9. If I saw a prince popping out of a grapefruit, I'd wonder who slipped me LSD!

    Grapefruit juice tastes best to me when a lot of sugar is added. The taste is too strong to handle big doses without a sweetener.

  10. I love grapefruits, especially pink ones, but not sure about having a prince pop out of one!

  11. If only a prince had popped out 20 years of now I think I prefer my grapefruit prince-free. And I think that feeling would be quite mutual if there were a prince in my grapefruit...sigh...

  12. So many people unable to eat grapefruit due to medicine - my wife included. A few years back I used as a murder my fiction.

  13. "As she is walking along, she decides to burn one of the grapefruits, for whatever reason."
    I simply looooove the tales' logic.
    I also love grapefruits, so it was a fun read (and like you, I didn't know how they came to be - thank you for that tidbit of knowledge!).