“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.”
Summertime, and the living is easy. What an incredible time of year to eat locally grown produce and support local organic and small farmers. Most urban centers now are lucky enough to have a farmers’ market at least weekly. But the absolute best is to visit a farm and pick your own fruit, where you’ll experience one of Mother Nature’s most delicious and fascinating spectacles.
Blossoming and straining under the weight of sepal, stigma, ovule, anther, filament and petals, fruit is actually the ripened ovary, complete with its seeds, of a flowering plant. The floral fresh smell and the satisfying taste of either a solid, juicy crunch or the fuzzy, sweet tender crush of a buttery, succulent, softer specimen is unlike any culinary experience you’ll get from fruit from a market. These guilty pleasures of sinking your teeth into the sun ripened warmth of any variety of sweet and luscious fleshy fruit is one of the best rewards of the summertime season. And it’ll be a family memory the kids will remember all their lives!
Now churchgoer or not, it’s that decadent bite into the ripe flesh of a perfect fruit that most of us know about Eve as she offered the illicit treasure from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil to Adam one unfortunate afternoon back in the Garden of Eden; that object of desire whose appeal brought about our loss of innocence and hence the understanding of the difference between good and evil. They ate of the forbidden fruit and, oh well…here we all are, still trying to figure it all out and usually getting it wrong.
Well, not just in Eden, but in California, Kansas, New Jersey and New York, each state actually boasts a town named after the goddess of fruit, fruitfulness, and abundance: Pomona, the impeccable hostess toting a heavily laden platter of fruit or an equally encumbered cornucopia of fruitful delights. In Roman mythology, she was the fleshy, voluptuous “goddess of fruit” and her name was often coupled with the blossoming of trees.
Interestingly, whether crumbly like coconut, acidy like cranberries, pungent like kumquats, celestial like Pomona or simply a mere mortal, both the human body and fruit each contain about 80% water. The importance of gobbling moist and juicy fruit regularly just can’t be overstated. First of all, it never has to be hunted or slaughtered before you can eat it; second, it’s 100% free of bad-cholesterol; and third, it contains heaps of healthy fiber ta’boot. Fresh fruit is so good for you that the American Heart Association advises each and every one of us to consume five to nine portions of fresh fruits or vegetables each and every day. How much do you eat every day?
Sometimes we buy produce that’s not quite ripened. In Paris, where most people shop daily, the fruit vendor will ask you when you want to eat each different fruit today, tomorrow or the day after, and will actually pick the fruit for you (don’t dare touch the display yourself!) so that when you do bite into it, is it ripened to perfection. But for the rest of us, when it comes to ripening most fruits, remember that many of them give off ethylene gas, which is a natural ripening agent. Therefore, to ripen any under-ripe fruit, place them in a paper bag with an apple or a banana. The gases they naturally expel will ripen the other fruit in a day or two when left at room temperature. Mother Nature has left nothing to chance! Oh, and just as an aside, once strawberries are picked, they stop ripening, so don’t expect the white inside to turn red; many varieties are bred to be red on the outside and white on the inside, but regardless, if they aren’t sweet when you buy them, they won’t get any sweeter if you wait to eat them. So slice ’em and dice ’em and add a bit of honey, stir it all up, and enjoy that way.
And when your fruit is ripe and ready to devour, always remember to rinse the pesticides, dirt and wax off of any fruit by adding a few tablespoons of baking soda to a sink of warm water. Then rinse with clean water, pat dry, display at room temperature or refrigerate (your choice), and, of course, wolf them down throughout the day. Relish National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month (June!) with a bountiful supply of your favorite fruit.
What was Noah’s favorite fruit? Pears, of course!