Among her sisters, the peach holds a place of privilege and mystery. Apples are ordinary; strawberries and figs are explicit, seductive; pears are restrained, even hesitant. Watermelons, cantaloupes, and honeydew are patient, sitting on counters waiting to ripen. Then, there are the little ones–the offspring of the berry family, all of them occasionally wicked and tart. All of them visually pleasant, enticing of appetite and taste. Following the theme of these occasional “tips on happiness,” all these sisters of the peach can bring happiness. But it is the peach (and perhaps the sister she is closest to, the plum) that can spark joy, intense, brief and long-lasting at the same time.
The peach is different, perhaps an acquired love. Beginning with the texture of its skin (white peach is an exception) all the way to its often recalcitrant seed, the peach is the vessel of ambiguity, even enigma, its joys offered between the fuzz of its surface and the stone-hardness of its core, its viscera variations of gold and pink and faint white even. As for the taste: not too sweet, not too tart; not too strong, not too feeble. It’s a taste that does not call attention to itself but stays on long after, gradually losing its punch and immediacy. I once had a peach in Armenia–the land of the best peaches in the world, I think. Something of that moment still comes back each time I bite into a peach or slice it for a more civilized savoring.
Neither modest nor overbearing, neither passive nor in your face, the peach is one heck of a fruit–and at this time of the year, nothing brings as much joy as a peach or two! Versatile as well, it can be cooked with meat and vegetables, but the tender love of the peach is best practiced by eating it fresh, unadulterated.
It took me many years to find an explanation of my devotion to the peach, to my enduring love of its varying tastes, its indeterminate pleasures, its rough beauty. Well, this is not much of an explanation, just a declaration of love disguised in words–which pales in comparison to the real thing, which is a poor substitute for its bounty.