Ode to the Peach

by Marcella Hazan on September 26, 2010

I had difficulty identifying a fruit in a recent photo that looked eerily unripe. The Friend posting it wrote that it was a peach, sweet and ripe, not a soft mushy mess. I grew up in an area that was famous in Italy for its peaches, when I was young I was able to pick them off from the tree when they were very ripe and I loved to eat one with its sugary juice dribbling down my chin. There is nothing edible from the earth, the sea, or the sky that tastes so wonderful to me as a fully ripe, soft, sweet, and yes, messy fruit. Unfortunately they are no longer to be found in a store’s fruit bin. Deborah Madison recently lamented the situation, and explained that young people today think that ripe, soft, sugary fruit is yucky and messy. What a pity!

We do have donut peaches here in the States, and if you are lucky enough to get a really ripe one, it is exquisite. One needn’t agonize over whether a perfect peach or a perfect fig is the most desirable. It’s an impossible choice to make, but fortunately they are each at their peak at different times.