People always say things are like comparing apples and oranges, but I have never actually seen someone go ahead and really compare those two things directly to each other. So here, in the spirit of not shortchanging fruit, I present you my head-to-head tally.
I may be a bit biased, since I am a Michigan girl (apple state) living in Washington (apple state), but I have eaten my fair share of citrus fruit too over the years.
In no particular order:
Access to the fruit- Apples have to win. You just pick one up, shine it off, and bite right in. Not so with the more fussy orange. First you need something to get the skin started peeling, so unless you carry a pocket machete, or mini-cleaver, oranges are best eaten at home or pre-scored so they can be peeled. That’s just a hassle. Then you have the whole tangle of white stuff, and the membranes themselves which can be too tough to eat without doing the cow-chew. And oranges are seedy. Not that I blame a fruit for doing its best to procreate, but whereas the tidy apple keeps its private business all tucked away neatly in the core, the orange has its seeds all spread around in each of the sections- it’s like a football team sewing its wild oats. That’s just TMI from something I am about to eat. So for a low-maintainence snack that you can quickly throw in your gullet, apples are the clear winner.
Potential pitfalls- Sometimes you will get an apple that’s a bit mealy. This is especially heartbreaking when it looks like it will be nice and crunchy and then you take that first big bite and it’s like sinking your teeth into 5-hour-old oatmeal. Awful. But that’s about it. An orange, on the other hand, is like a minefield of possible failures. They can be dried out, even if they look fine (don’t you hate when inside of the individual sections the pieces are hard and white? What’s up with that?). They can be rotty and overly squishy, but not in that ripe delicious way that peaches are- just in a gross decomposing way that makes you feel like you have just eaten from the compost pile. The can be overly sour (yet not yummy tart like an apple would be under similar circumstances) or completely tasteless, and there doesn’t seem to be any reliable way to tell. Don’t get me wrong- when you get a good orange, it’s a thing of rapture. I’m not an orange-hater. On the contrary, I love oranges, which is why I’m so sad that so many of them are so yucky. Oh, and one more thing in this category- have you ever thought you swallowed a piece of orange, only to realize that because the membrane situation was so complex you only partially swallowed it and the other part was still caught somewhere in your mouth? Well I have and it has never happened to me with an apple. So guess who wins this one?
Color- Let me just put it out there that I am not artsy. When we moved into our house and it came to decorating it, I let each of the kids pick out a paint color for their rooms. Tada! That’s how fancy I am and how much I notice decoration. But the fact that apples come in such a wide variety of sizes and colors and shades and variations is kind of cool. The fact that oranges are, well, orange is just a bit boring. Even the name is kind of underwhelming. A bowl of apples on a table looks inviting, and since you can just grab one and eat it (see the first item above), it actually IS inviting. A bowl of oranges might match your decor if your kitchen is retro 1950s (or really hideous), but unless you are looking for an afternoon project, the bowl of oranges will just sit there being orange. How blah. Sorry oranges, but you’ve got no game. Gotta give the pop prop to the mad funky apple.
Price- Here’s where my Michigan roots (read: total bias) are really going to come into play. In Michigan you could get apples for 69 cents a pound. Yes! Take I-96 to Gratiot and go about 1 block North and you will find Randazzo’s, the best fruit market around, where not only do they have fabulous apples, but a wide selection and of really good quality produce and the best prices I ever found. When I moved to Seattle, I got kind of excited that since I would be so much closer to California, I would probably be able to get really good prices on fresh produce straight from Cali. Like, for example, oranges. But not so, friends. Not only can you not find a pepper in this part of the state for any reasonable price (I would tell you how much they charge here, but you may have an undesirable physical reaction…), but the California produce here is actually MORE EXPENSIVE in Washington than it was in Michigan! I have no explanation for why that is, but it’s the reality on the ground. So not only can I not get nice fresh oranges from a state that’s practically my neighbor, I am still paying way too much for them. And even though I am overpaying for apples as well (a bargain here is more like $1.69/pound, and that hurts…) they are STILL cheaper than oranges. Even though I should call this a draw just for gentlemanly reasons, I have to give this one to the team apple…
Johnny Rotten- Can we talk about that powdery mildew that grows on oranges, seemingly out of nowhere, and then spreads like the plague? The stuff that’s white and then gets greenish blue and makes the orange collapse in on itself like a supernova? That’s just wrong. An apple at least has the decency to get a bruise that you can cut out and salvage the rest of the apple. But the poor orange gets that stuff and anything in its path is just a goner.
I think you can see where this is heading. I feel like the poor orange is just getting pulverized, and that shouldn’t be the case. Oranges have lots of redeeming qualities: they make way better juice than apples (apple juice is one thing I have always found disgusting). They are fantastic in the whole Julius thing, and adorable as mandarins. They are easier to share than apples, and they don’t brown if you leave them open on the table. I’m sure there are other good qualities, and maybe some of you coastal folks can share them with me. Until then, though, I’m gonna have to call this contest in favor of the apples. So for all future discussions, let’s find something else to compare…