The Elusive Peach
Possibly the most delicious fruit in the mainland United States is a really good peach. It’s not just the flavor, it’s the overtones. It’s like a fine wine: As you swallow it, the character of the flavor changes. It’s the best.
I’m trying to think of the last time I had a peach that good. It’s been years, I know that much. It’s so hard to find them now! (And nectarines don’t even come close.) Their prime season is the summer, so it’s starting to wrap up now. Many shops and stands and cobblers later, I’m still trying to find one before they’re gone for nine months.
Here’s the first thing I’ve learned: Don’t even try chains. When they buy in huge quantities like that, they have to be dealing with commercial growers, who use chemicals and who do not ever let the soil regenerate. Often it’s greenhouse conditions, too. Have you ever smelled a mass-produced rose? Unless it’s lavender, there is little if any fragrance to it. It’s not like a “real” rose. It’s the same with peaches. If there’s a door they can lock, don’t even try it.
I have found that even the one-offs – the guys who have one store – it’s hit-or-miss. You’re best bet is the roadside stands. The ones with handwritten signs on cardboard. Sitting on a patio table with an umbrella. Or the trucks that pull off the side of the road to sell. Those are definitely your best bet.
But it’s still not a guarantee. One time, my friend and I bought these fantastic peaches from one of those stands! They were everything a peach should be! We went back the next week and they weren’t quite as good. Close, but no magic.
What do you do? How do you find that amazing flavor? If anyone out there know, please tell me. It’s like a dream of summers when I was a kid.