Saturday, August 16, 2008
It's peach season again in the northeast. Forget the year-round imported peaches I ignore in the supermarket. Fresh picked local peaches are mounded in local farm stands.
But better still, the tree in our back yard is hanging heavy with peaches almost, but not quite, ripe. One, riper than the rest, dropped onto the grass when my husband bumped a branch while mowing the lawn. When he was finished, we shared it, the way we do with the first fruit from each of our trees, including the first tiny cherry we carefully divide in half.
Bruce peeled off the skin and sliced the peach into wedges. Our peaches are fuzzier than store-bought peaches, and the skin is speckled with black fungus spots. But underneath the golden flesh drips with flavorful juice. This one was so delicious that I've checked the fruit daily since tasting that one, gently squeezing to see if it's ready to pick. And eat.
The other day we took a bike ride on a trail that curved along the Rhode Island coast. The trip was 15 miles each way, so we took our time stopping to take pictures., and at one point to examine fresh produce, preserves, and baked goods in a farmer's market set up in a shady park. The peaches, pink and softly fuzzed, caught my eye, and before we hopped back on the bikes I bought one.
I told the lady behind the table how good our own peaches were, but that hers looked so much better. "Ours have skin speckled with black spots," I told her.
She wrinkled her nose. "Oh, that's a fungus," she said.
"What to you do to avoid it," I asked. "Do you spray?"
She was horrified. "No! We don't use chemicals. We hire a company to treat the peaches."
She became distracted by a man she thought had just stuffed an ear of corn down his shorts, so I didn't get to ask how the company treated for the fungus without chemicals.
With the memory of my back-yard peach making my mouth water, I stood beside my bike and bit into the fruit. It was a flavorless mush, pale fleshed and dry. I finished it only because I paid for it-- I was raised not to waste money or food-- but I enjoyed it not at all. Ick.
I'm sure there are things we can do to eliminate the fungus, and make the preaches have more eye appeal, but I'd stack the flavor of our peaches against any other peach anywhere. Hands down. There is no better peach than the ones on the tree in my back yard. Just close your eyes and open your mouth.
Read Inner Beauty, last summer's peach story.
“Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring and because it has fresh peaches in it” ~Thomas Walker