Monday, October 22, 2012

The more things change the more they stay the same.

I've moved. If you want to skip everything not food-related, you may.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Frozen Peaches

What does one do with frozen peaches? The underlying question, of course, is what does one do with peaches? There are so many of them, and they go so quickly. Can't have them rotting on the ground and yet if brought home they melt into the counter within a few days. Their already fuzzy skins bloom with white and black. They leave behind a goo, the underside of their ripeness. To capture them ripe without catching the toughness and putrefaction that define the borders of ripe is the passion of autumn, for some.

This passion can take two forms: anxiety and hoarding. These may sound like the same thing. But while the anxious is obsessed with wasted peaches (those on the ground are failures, or if not too rotten yet, rescues) the hoarder has a more generous outlok. The hoarder sees the peach season as an opportunity. Noteably, the anxious has trees in the yard and is tasked with caring for them (i.e. using them), whereas the hoarder rents others'.

The anxious picks as many as possible ripe off the tree and uses them immediately. Uses and not eats beause eating is only one use. Other uses include baking in a crisp and pairing with ice cream. Not so much pleasures as ways to cut losses. One does not so much taste the presence of peaches as the absence of the loss of peaches. One feels less a failure.

The hoarder, having access to far more trees, picks and picks. It's not much work, picking peaches, and so boxes and boxes fill up quickly. Here we return to the second question: what to do with all those peaches? One can't eat them quickly enough, even in a crisp. No matter. The hoarder believes ripeness can be preservered. Peaches can be frozen. Fleeting pleasure can be had throughout the year. As the anxious tastes the mitigation of failure, the hoarder tastes shrewdness in frozen peaches. Having given perishability the slip, one tastes oneself.

Now we come to the first question: What does not do with frozen peaches? Much as one would like to believe they are peaches, they're something else when they thaw. As they thaw, they release their liquid. They divide, much like curdling milk, into liquid and solid. A bowl of thawed peaches is a bowl of sweet, orange soup. One can ignore the soup, cover it with oats, butter, and sugar, and bake it, but the oats turn soggy. The peach-solids boil into near disintegration in the oven. But it is crisp, in it are still technically peaches, and one may still revel in the simulacric bounty of refrigeration.

One may also acknowledge the soup, and treat its two components different. One then pours off the liquid into a pot, covers the solids with oats, butter, and sugar, and bakes them. One boils the liquid with more sugar and spices, down to a thick brown sauce, and pours this over the crisp. This necromantic trickery makes a less soggy crisp, but still, soggy, and the peaches, if indeed they are peaches, sad, deflated, and oddly flavorless without their sauce. Some things cannot be fixed or solved. To solve them is to change what the solution was meant to preserve. It would be smug, however, to suggest that the lack of a solution is a solution. It's not as if the gesture of stepping aside causes the peach to leap forth with its true flavor. On the unyielding terms one lays out, one has never tasted a peach.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Figs & Toilets

Is eating fruit a perversion? If you're bored, it's a cheering thought. While picking figs the other day, I heard it articulated like this: "these trees must be so unhapppy--they spent all this energy putting on fruit, just to have us flush the seeds down our indoor plumbing." The assumption is that trees produce fruit for a purpose: to reproduce. This seems obvious, but it is also untrue.

Evolutionary thought, oddly, seems to undergird this assumption of fruit's purposiveness, in the same way that the tired image of basket weavers and hunters is mobilized to naturalize the most thoughtless gender prescriptions. I do have to assume that fruit evolved because trees that grew fruit begat more reproducing offspring than trees that did not. However, the accidents of evolution--canny as they might be--do not assign or come from any purpose whatsoever. (A tautology--but honestly, do you want to read an argument that evolution is accidental? Suffice to say evolution is a misleading term, because it's not a system.) Fruit just happened.

Besides, if trees are people, then who are we to say they insist on the reproductive use of their fruit? And even if they insist that their detachable flesh only be chewed for the furthering of the race, who is to say they don't enjoy wantonness for exactly the same reason?

I know, I'm reaching. But when I heard it said matter-of-factly that figs are "like balls" the train of thought was inevitable, wasn't it? No, actually--that's my point. I think you'll agree that just because I heard that statement and now I'm writing this post, this post was not its purpose. Yet I am enjoying this particular use. Because it is excessive, or just because?

On the same outing, as we exerted ourselves jumping to and climbing on branches, I posited the dreariest view of food imaginable by saying that we certainly were not doing this for the calories. Of course not. If you have the chance not to, why do something out of necessity?

So no, eating fruit is not a perversion, flush toilet or no, because there isn't one thing fruit are made for in the first place.

It's not as if anyone is all in a tizzy over orchards (all those "virgin" trees). Then again, isn't this exactly what pastoral beauty is all about--the sublime channeled into production?

The fruit does fall, and I must admit I looked away from the figs smashed into the ground, and I hesitated yet was excited by the squishy give of the overripe. The fallen (that word cannot be an accident) figs stuck unpleasantly to our shoes. Importantly, figs will not sprout in this climate. Whether I think so or not, it appears I'm uncomfortable with flesh not trained to produce or reproduce.