Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Man, I Love a Good Peach

I don't think it's hyperbole for me to say that there is simply no better food in this world than a perfectly ripe peach. They key of course is that the peach has to be at the absolute pinnacle of ripeness. And if you happen to land on that sweet spot of ripeness in your peach, you are in for a taste of heaven itself.

Hitting that sweet spot of ripeness is difficult to be sure. In fact, conversely there is probably nothing more disappointing than biting into a peach only to discover it is under ripe or overripe. Under ripe and it tastes like nothing. Or like some sort of wannabe apple. Overripe and it's like brandishing your mouth with bitter baby food or something. And the texture just isn't what it should be.

Ah! The texture of a perfectly ripe peach! Unlike the crunchiness of an apple which can be quite jarring, or the mushiness of a pear, the perfectly ripe peach offers the perfect amount of give and take for your teeth to enjoy.

But unfortunately it's that prime ripeness time that makes the peach so sought after. It's almost like Ahab's white whale at times. If you miss that often minuscule time window, you've got nothing but disappointment between your lips.

How minuscule is that time window? It seems like it can be perhaps a day and perhaps but a few hours. Look at a peach, come back in a few hours and it might be too late. So you have to take advantage of a perfectly ripe peach when you can. Because once that window is closed, it will never open again for that peach.

Man, do I ever love a good peach.

Perhaps equally frustrating is the fact that the variable of when the actual peach was picked is entirely out of your control. Each peach has its own personal proper picking time, yet large scale farming obviously follows the need to pick uniformally. So oftentimes it's as much of a crapshoot more than anything else.

With a lot of fruits and vegetables you can kind of tell when it's been picked properly. But with a peach you really can't. Because at the store, you're not really buying it to eat right then and there, or even right when you get home. You're buying it in anticipation of eating it in a couple days. Because almost none of the peaches in the produce section are at peak post-picking ripeness. The have perhaps a few days, perhaps a few hours before they will achieve their potential as the most wondrous of all gustatory endeavors.

If you've ever had a perfectly ripe peach you'd agree that there is nothing more fantastic.

The instant you bite into a peach, you know if it's perfectly ripe or not. Even bystanders can tell. If you see someone bite into a peach and hesitate, wince, or even cringe, you know that the peach was eaten before its time or past its prime. On the other hand, if you see said person just delve into the peach upon first bite, you know it was the right time. It almost becomes incontrollable. You don't take a bite, wait, and take another bite. You gorge yourself immediately. You don't even pay attention to anyone or anything around you. It's like you eat it as if it were your first meal in days. If it's at the proper time and all the variables have been properly aligned for that peach, you lose yourself in that peach. You attack it almost, with no regard for stem or pit or even proper manners.

Jeez, do I ever love peaches!

A perfectly ripe peach, if indeed at that apex of ripeness, will be consumed in about 30-45 seconds. The carnage is palpable as after the half-minute is up and peach's juice is splayed all over your hands and even arms. That's the sign that the peach was perfect.

But that is what's so vexing about a good peach: all the signs of its ripeness are only evident after the fact. A peach can look beautiful and perfectly colored. It can even have the proper tautness of skin and it still not be that ever so wonderful peach experience.

God I love a good peach.

What's more amazing is that the peach flavor is almost never properly achieved or recreated. Have you ever had peach yogurt? The little bits of peach taste nothing like the wonderful perfectly ripe peach experience. Peach flavored candy? Hardly. Even canned peaches pale in comparison to a properly picked, properly aged, properly eaten peach. Too, the canned peaches often have rust on them, which will turn you off of peaches for a while.

The seasonal nature of peaches also contributes to the unending quest for a perfect peach. Don't even bother trying to find a good peach outside of late Summer. It's just not going to happen. And don't even bother with the frozen kind. Because, while they may be picked at prime ripeness, they are chopped up, frozen and all strewn together with potentially unripe peaches.

It's as if you're playing the lottery when it comes to peaches. And just like the scratch-and-win tickets, it is not until you take your first bite of a peach that you know you've hit paydirt.

There is simply nothing better than a perfectly ripe peach. It far transcends any other fruit you could possibly enjoy. Even the sublime strawberry, while on average better, due to the ease in which it is enjoyed at its peak ripeness, simply cannot compare to a peach that is discovered to have every working variable at its apex of enjoyment.

Between the texture, the flavor, the juiciness, and perhaps even the rarity of a prime peach, it is hard to imagine a better piece of food.


Adam said...

Has school not started for you yet? Obviously not.

Growing up we had a peach tree in my backyard. That was the life.

gk said...

Actually class started Monday.

Ashley said...

*shaking head*

gk said...

What's the matter? You don't like peaches?

Kelly said...

did you ever read James and the Giant Peach?...because little James just eats his way into the center of the biggest peach ever and then goes flying around in it lifted by a flock of birds along with his gigantic insect friends. if James had the same reaction you do (out of control, Geoff, out of control), i'm sure he would have died from pleasure smack dab in a tunnel of sweet sticky goodness, but then we wouldn't have the rest of the story. you should read that book out loud to Addy. please make it so. i have some peaches in my fridge so i'm gonna go eat one now.

gk said...

Oooohh.... not a fan of the peaches in the fridge. It's not a bad way to sort of get yourself an adequate peach, but they simply don't ripen properly in the fridge. You really gotta leave them out.

See, and sometimes it's even good to leave them around other ripening fruit. The other pieces of ripening fruit give off chemicals that in turn help the peaches ripe properly. In fact, the last perfectly ripened peach I had was sitting in a bowl with a banana and a pear for about a day. And when I bit into it, I knew I had reached prime peach enjoyment. At that moment I started ravenously gorging myself on the spherical delight.

Man. Simply nothing better than a perfectly ripe peach.