Clasa a 12-a B
Colegiul Național “Mircea cel Bătrân”
The grapes are the fruit of the vines, being named “Baca” in botanic. The vine is part of the Vitaceae family and it is a climbing plant, with big, lobed leaves. The grapes are arranged in clusters and can have different colors, depending on what variety they are. The grapes are spread world-widely, being grown and ate on all of the 7 continents of Terra (the variety of the grapes is given by the different types of climate around the world but not only).
The history of the fruit is closely related to the history of wine, but beyond the Bacchus drink that can be obtained from them, grapes present a wide range of properties. One of the advantages of eating grapes is represented by the increased intake of the vitamins among which we mention the B complex, but also the D, C, K, E and F vitamins. Researchers show that the exact parts of the grape which we would normally not eat (here I refer to the peel and the grape seeds) are the most rich in vitamins. Even I used to bypass those parts when I was little, not knowing that the biggest part of the nutriments were in there, always choosing the fruit pulp for its sweetness. Grapes are a much diversified complex of nutriments, being renowned for the benefits they bring to the kidney, liver, digestive system, heart etc. The zinc, the magnesium, the malic acid and the Q10 coenzyme are only some of the multitude of nourishing substances which contribute to our health. You can say that grapes are the enemies of cancer, this malady of the 20th century which is on cure waiting list all among the globe. As it is said, prevention is the best cure of disease, we must mention that, thanks to its procyanidins content, grapes have an anticancer effect.
Grape consumption brings great benefits to the whole organism, strengthening the immunity system so that it can prevent or at least easily surpass any flu or infection. Moreover, grapes are great as a sleeping pill, having calming properties. So, if you ever encounter sleeping problems, don’t hesitate to drink a glass of grape juice or eat some grapes, as this is a natural solution. Furthermore, if you are in need of better hydration, the grape consumption is recommended due to its rich water content (approximately 75%). The rest of the fruit, 25%, is mostly made out of sugars which give the fruit its delicious, sweet taste.
Another aspect which is worth talking about is that a study shows that most people who live near vineyards (this means they eat many grapes) have a longer life span. The ones responsible for this property are the nourishing enzymes which exist in the fresh fruit or juice, the consumption of wine not being recommended in large quantities.
That doesn’t mean that wine isn’t good. Sometimes a glass of red wine can be very helpful. For instance, mixing it with only a pinch of salt can prevent or help cure gum irritation. This irritation, if not treated, can lead to serious infections, which are commonly encountered by most of the population nowadays.
Proof of vine cultivation date from 7000 years ago, Antique Mesopotamia being among the first regions in which proof has been found. Later on, people from Georgia and Armenia from today, and even Egypt have started growing vine for the purpose of obtaining wine, a product which was considered to be exclusively for the aristocrats in absolutely all the antique societies, being consumed at religious ceremonies and on holydays. The old Egyptians kept track of the vineyards by writing down the harvested quantities on the tomb walls. They even used to bury the pharaohs with a significant number of wine bottles so that they could also enjoy it in the other life. Vine cultivation and wine production are two aspects that reveal a high level of development of a people, whereas, in the absence of minimum cultivation knowledge, grapes left to grow at will, would be very small and increasingly less every year. Wine production demands large grape squeezers and barrels to keep the wine over the years.
There are, as I stated in the beginning of this essay, many types of grapes, the first being the color grading. Therefore, the grapes are divided into red and white grapes. Also, the grapes may be meant for fresh consumption or for wine production. According to this classification, farmers shall choose the best variety to cultivate.
Vines are usually grown on extensive areas, but this is not mandatory. In my grandparents’ gardens there is a medium length vine, just enough to fulfill their own consumption needs for the autumn. I remember with great pleasure and nostalgia the beginning of August when I would impatiently look at the green clusters, waiting for the purple ones to meet my eager eyes. Clearly, the question I would address my grandparents most often during that time was “When are grapes going to ripen?”, though I knew that I wasn’t likely to collect the first sweet, ripe bunch until the beginning of September. This fruit brings back a lot of memories, especially the enticing smell of the freshly picked clusters and the taste of the cold grape juice served with raisin cookies. The grape juice would then turn into red wine making me wonder why it couldn’t stay the way it was before, the way I preferred it. Years have passed and the wine fermentation process is no longer a mistery for me, but even so, I’d rather have a glass of freshly squeezed grape juice that a bottle of wine.
Finally I decided to add a recipe based on the fruit I have chosen to present in the essay, a recipe in which grapes would be the centerpiece, but finding it seemed to be a difficult task in the first place. None of the recipes in the cooking book matched the idea I had in mind, but, after a few minutes of reflection the answer was clear : grandma’s raisin cookies. You may be wondering how raisins are made and this is why I chose to explain the simple way to have your own homemade raisins.The process is not complicated at all but it might take just a little more than if you took a short walk to the corner store for a bag of raisins. Be sure you choose the ripest grapes from the cluster, wash them thoroughly and then remove them all from the stems. Place them on a tray that is slatted so air can circulate around and dry the fruit, then put it in a dry sunny place and let your grapes sit out in the sun for 2 to 3 days.
200g of flour
200g of raisins
200g of butter
100g of powdered sugar
20g of lemon rind
Mix the butter and the powdered sugar together until smooth, or creamed. Gradually add the rest of the ingredients until you get a creamy dough. The cookies can have various shapes but one handy way of shaping them would be using a teaspoon so that your cookies are round and even. Your pan should be greased with butter and floured before you put it in the oven for about 15 minutes. Bon appétit!