Out of season


Lately, due to trouble of the acid reflux kind, I have been trying to eat low-acid foods as much as possible. In terms of fruit, bananas and melons turn out to be lowest, which is how I found myself cutting open this watermelon in the middle of February, a time when melons are notoriously out of season. (The sight of it on my cutting board suddenly reminded me of this seventeenth-century painting by Giovanni Stanchi, in which you can truly see how selective breeding has transformed this humble fruit.)

I generally do not like to eat fruit out of season, but this watermelon was pretty good. However, there is nothing like waiting for fruits to come into season, which takes on a whole other meaning when you live near farms and orchards as I do.

Strawberry season comes first, in mid-June. During the famous Ice Storm of December 2008, in which we lost power for five days, the taste of a couple of Thompson-Finch strawberries, which had been picked the previous summer and frozen on cookie sheets and then stored in the freezer in plastic bags, actually brought tears to my eyes (in truth, my first taste of a Thompson-Finch strawberry, some six years previously, had also brought tears to my eyes. That is how astonishingly good they are.). They have this kind called Early Glow, which over the years have been getting smaller and smaller and sweeter and sweeter. No strawberry is better than an Early Glow. It’s that simple. Even now, when we don’t pick quite so many strawberries (my ex-husband was always making pints and pints of strawberry jam often on the hottest day of the summer), we will try to get some at the right time and then have at least one dinner of strawberries, buttermilk biscuits, and whipped cream.

Then I pretty much spend the rest of the summer buying and eating peaches wherever and whenever I can from farms in the area, and exclaiming, nearly every time I eat one, “Is there anything better than a fresh peach in the summer?” And there really isn’t. Except.

In the fall, I wait with feverish anticipation until the macoun apples are ready and then I buy bags and bags of them, and plenty other varieties too, and make all kinds of apple crumbles and crisps and, of course, just eat them plain, marveling again at how there is nothing better than fresh apples in the fall. We also used to pick apples every year, but somehow my children seem to have lost interest in this, so I just buy apples at this one particular farm (which also happens to have the best cider donuts in the world), and sometimes even the utility kind, which are not pretty, but cost a lot less. I never judge apples for their looks anyway.

So right now, I can handle this out-of-season melon (pretty much) and I am happy enough with bananas (however, my younger daughter’s hatred of bananas is so well-known that I actually saw friends of hers playfully chasing her with a banana at a party), but come summer, I will be partaking in the fruits that are pretty much the reason to live in upstate New York (also the summer itself, my god, the gorgeous summers here!). Acid be damned.


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