I love how they look, how they feel, how they taste; and, I love their scent. Peaches are voluptuous. They’re sensuous. They’re succulent. They’re fragrant. They remind me of the film, Tom Jones, which probably had one of the sexiest scenes of two people eating in movie history. And for me, they are also the essence of Summer.
Enjoying a peach involves so many senses — olfactory, visual, tactile and taste. Right off the top they are lovely to look at — round, with gentle curves, in shades ranging from cream to coral to red, from yellow to almost orange. Their perfume is irresistible — at least to me; and I often wonder what the response might be if we (women) dabbed some peach nectar behind our ears before going out, instead of our regular eau de toilette. And then there’s the feel of them, experiencing the different textures — biting through the delicate, protective layer of fuzzy outer skin before you can get to the soft, silky, moist and toothsome flesh inside.
When it comes to peaches I’m a purist:
No cobblers, pies or ice cream for me. Oh no, I prefer my peaches in their natural state, so I can enjoy them at their very best. Halved, very lightly grilled and topped with a dollop of plain, Greek yoghurt. Sliced and placed on top of my cereal. Or, like I often do — hunched over the sink, whole fruit in hand, ready to savour every bite. Juices running down my chin and over my fingers, leaving me somewhat sticky, but so satisfied. Licking my fingers when no one’s watching.
I do have one exception, though. I am fond of Bellini’s (peach nectar and Asti Spumonte). But when they’re made with fresh peach nectar — just the way I had them at Harry’s Bar in Venice.
Here’s a question for you: Do you have any idea how many different kinds of peaches there are? I was under the impression that, maybe, there were three or four. Wrong. Amazingly there are more than 2000 different varieties of peaches. But my current favourites are the white, donut peaches. Quite simply, I am addicted.
The other thing I love about peaches is the ritual of selecting the ones I want and then waiting for them to ripen. Waiting, patiently. Thinking about how good
they’ll be. Coming into the kitchen every morning, picking them up trying to gauge if they’re any softer than they were the day before. Lifting them up to my nose, inhaling to check if their scent has intensified. Placing them gently back on the plate, on their other side, trying to avoid bruising.
And finally, knowing they’re ready. Knowing without even looking at them, or touching them. Knowing because their intoxicating scent greets me at my front door when I arrive home. Which brings me to this morning:
Filled with anticipation, mouth watering, I got out of bed and headed directly into the kitchen. As soon as I picked one of the peaches up I felt the difference. It was slightly heavier, and, even without any poking or prodding, I could tell it was soft. Ready. I rinsed it carefully, took one, last look and took a bite.
No juice. Dry as a bone. No juice running down my chin. Could have been eating a potato. In total disbelief I took another bite.
Tasteless. Not sweet. Not slightly tart closer to the stone. Could have been eating wood shavings. All I could do was stare at it. Just before I tossed it into the garbage.
Talk about lunch box letdown.