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Rambutan? Huh?

Please pass the rambutan.

Right.  I didn’t know what it was either but it was mentioned in a recent filler article in the R-C.  I’m not sure what’s behind it but there seems to be a rash of “record-setting” events and/or activities of all kinds that seem to be, basically, pointless.  I imagine that the folks down at Guiness must get a tad tired of it all when they get calls to come certify the biggest/tallest/shortest/heaviest/ugliest/ whatever ”est” you can imagine, so that somebody can get in the record books for having   built/grown/climbed/compiled/eaten/run/assembled/produced the item or event or group in question. The whole Guiness Book of World Records, after all, got its start as a means of settling barroom arguments between individuals neither qualified to nor capable of a whole lot of rational thought at the time.  They eventually had to restrict the kinds of items that they would include so as to NOT be involved in dangerous and/or illegal pursuits by those persons whose epitaphs might well read, ”Hey, guys, watch this!” or “Nah, it won’t hurt.”  Or ”Sure, it’s unloaded.”  Or other such feckless statements.

Now, Diana Nyad and her swimming of the Florida Strait between Florida(Well, duh) and Cuba—without a shark cage—was surely a singular accomplishment but I’m a little fuzzy on what this ultimately proves, other than the fact that Diana Nyad is one tough chick and damn-all determined too.  And who puts together all of the support teams and such?  This stuff doesn’t get left under the pillow by the “World Record Fairy”.  Somebody has to solicit and organize and activate (permits, permits, permits) everything to make the record actually happen and have it observed and have it certified by whoever.(There are several small but determined and convinced groups that believe that the Wright Brothers were NOT the first to achieve powered flight but they don’t have pictures.  Orville does.)  It’s like that conundrum about a tree falling in the forest and nobody to hear it.

Anyway, what brought this on was this little article about a 15,000-pound fruit salad put together by a bunch (about five hundred students and staff) of devoted “fruititarians” at the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts to   begin the new academic year.  People showed up to slice, dice, pit and peel 150 varieties of fruit.  Twenty varieties of apples( 3600 lbs.), nineteen varieties of melon (2500 lbs), peaches, bananas, oranges, God-knows-how-many berries got into the mix. More exotic fruits made it in too—quince(big-time tart, makes your mouth pucker up fit to whistle), passion fruits  (oooh, those college students!) and rambutan, which, according to Webster’s 9th, is a bright red, spiny Malayan fruit closely related to the litchi(and we all know about them, don’t we?); the tree, Nephelium lappaceum, of the soapberry family (Yum.  Sounds like what one would love to have in a fruit salad, right?) which bears this fruit. The concoction came together in a fifteen-ft.-diameter swimming pool.

Spoons up, Guiness people!  The internet search revealed one entry that said the dish had broken a record (Who set THAT?  Mc Gill University, Toronto, 11,192 lbs.) and that the 15291 lb.  treat was served with a shovel (Yum again!)  They had a crack culinary team—Jet Tila of the Food Network, Willie Sng, the UMass, Amherst executive chef, Oliver Volpi , head chef of McGill University, who oversaw the last world record.  They weighed it all on a truck scale.  The picture of the salad looked pretty tasty…except for the big scoopers being used to stir the  vat-ful of pieces-parts…so nobody gets nothing but boring old watermelon, presumably.  The whole thing was assembled in about four hours and was going to be used up  , either in smoothies, breakfast offerings, muffins and such or a local food kitchen for the disadvantaged.  They put in mint too.  No Garcina cambogia( the latest Wonder Fruit touted as a fat-preventer but also known as tamarind , and the subject of dire warnings on the internet)

And , lest you think that UMass is a bunch of tyros at this record-setting thing, they have previously done   record-setting seafood stews, sushi rolls and stir-fries.  So there.

O.K.   So what was the point of this?  Fruit salad at least can be seen as a boost for good nutrition—and, since there were 150 varieties of fruit used—a commemoration of the university’s sesquicentennial, and a bulwark against the traditional “freshman 15”, the number of pounds that college student gain in their first year at school (It’s all of those ramen noodles).

Likewise for many of the “world record” announcements that keep popping up.  Frequently,  my first reaction is : “So what?”

Couldn’t we try for a world-record in something useful?  I have a T-shirt that says, ”We have enough youth.  Let’s look for a Fountain of Smart.”

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