Let’s think about the peach. The vibrant mix of fiery orange and red sweeping its surface. How sexy is that shape – with the round, fuzzy curvature and visible crack? It baits you to take a big messy bite, juice running down your chin. The sweet flesh a wake up call to recruit your sense of taste, smell and touch. When perfectly ripe on a summer day it is 100 percentage fruit – sheer delight.
I brought a ripe peach to a friend recovering from heart surgery. That peach stood out like a iridescent beacon in the dull room full of grey machinery, transparent plastic tubing and the monochromatic hospital lunch tray. I’ll never forget the smile when he took the first bite.
In Israel, the peach tree in our small backyard was packed with peaches. You could see the branches straining and bending against the weight of the fruit. I made pies, jams and ice cream and there were more to spare.
Finding fresh fruit in Wisconsin can mean waiting for a truck to come in from a different state. The truck is packed with boxes of freshly picked Georgia peaches. Yesterday I checked the truck schedule and saw the truck was coming nearby town. I arrived early and there were already 100 people in line.
When you get them home, the first thing you do is spread them out on a surface. It can take 1-3 days until they are ripe. Check each one daily and when the skin ‘gives’ against a gentle prod, it is time for the refrigerator.
Everything has its time, it’s season. Being knowledgeable and active in seeking out fresh, local produce grounds us.
I play with metaphor here as the peach, at the right time, can be a remarkably sensual experience. We need sensory stimulation to combat the feeling of isolation and confinement. The arrival of the peach is the icon for summer. The fuzzy texture of the skin protects the soft, sweet flesh inside. The good juicy ones are a mess – the antidote for our sterile, over-disinfected skin.
Peaches are uncomplicated, per Diana Henry, the author of the book How to Eat a Peach. She suggests pairing peaches in a glass of Moscato, like in Italy, where slices of peach are slipped into the wine glass and eaten soaked in wine. We can do like the Italians until we get back to that beautiful country.
Every day life – masks, plexiglass, fluorescent light, air conditioning, television, cars – distances us from the earth. Savoring a peach pulls us back in and grounds us. Go ahead, dare to eat a peach!