During my young childhood in a tiny half-dilapidated apartment in the North Japan, I read a lot of fairy tales and folk tales from around the world rewritten for young children. One of the things that appeared frequently in the Western tales was an apple. In Snow White and other stories, I often encountered a scene where the main character ate an apple. What intrigued me was that every time they ate an apple, the apple was red and whole. It was never peeled nor cut in pieces.
During the winter season, my mother often bought apples from the local store and served them with breakfast. But the apples I ate at home were always peeled and cut in small pieces. I fantasized about eating a whole apple like the characters in the Western fairy tales.
One winter day, I told my mother that I wanted to eat a whole apple.
“I want to eat a whole apple,” I said eagerly. “With all the skin, just as it is.”
My mother didn’t understand why I had such a request all of a sudden.
“A whole apple?” she repeated with a surprise on her face. “Isn’t that too big? I can cut an apple into half. How about that?”
“No,” I replied. “I want a whole apple. It has to be whole.”
She offered to peel the apple, but I turned down that offer as well.
“No, Mommy. It has to be whole, and it has to have all the skin!”
My mother finally agreed, and gave me a whole apple after washing it well. Delighted, I brought the apple to my favourite window and sat on the windowsill to eat the apple.
As I held the red and whole apple in my hand, I imagined that I was a heroin of a fairy tale. I thought to myself that a beautiful princess was sitting on the windowsill, about to take a bite from her apple.
Then I took a bite. Or at least so I tried. What happened was that the apple was too big for the mouth of a five year old. I opened my mouth as wide as I could, but still, my mouth just slid on the surface of the apple. I only managed to catch a piece of the skin in my mouth.
What was happening? I thought to myself. This was not how things looked in my picture books. People in the stories always ate the whole apple effortlessly. What I didn’t realize back then was that Japanese apples are more than twice as large as Western ones.
After struggling with the whole apple for some time, I finally gave up. I went to my mother and asked her to cut it in smaller pieces. After this incident, I never fantasized about eating a whole apple again.