There’s been way too much squabbling recently about the color of the peach and the state of the peach or more accurately, the lack of peaches in many states. Farm stands and markets dotting New England, the Hudson Valley, southern New York and parts of New Jersey are feeling the effects of what is known among farmers as the “Valentine’s Day Massacre.” Frigid temps blew into town on the 13th and 14th of February wreaking havoc on fragile peach crops. In light of this news, one would think the retail pie crowd would appreciate whatever bounty comes their way. One would think.
On more than one occasion this week, lattice lovers have called the bakery to inquire about this weekend’s pie forecast. Others wandered in, sorting through each and every windowed pie box in the hopes of securing exactly what they wanted. I wish I knew what that was, but clearly it was not in the box nor on the rack nor in the oven. One individual had to know what else was available and I replied,“White Peach. Blueberry. Key Lime. White Peach with Cornmeal Crumble.” The oven timer signaled for attention as Ms. What Else Is Available watched me don the Stay-Puft-Marshmallow-Man oven mitts. She persisted, “What’s in the oven?” I repeated, “White Peach. Blueberry. Key Lime. White Peach with Cornmeal Crumble.” Is there an echo?
Speedy Icer answered the phone yesterday and listened patiently. Would there be peach pies for the weekend? Standing in front of flats of peaches awaiting their fate under the blade of my paring knife, I nodded. “White peach. We have white peaches.” After much discussion it was decided that the pie seeker would take a pass. “I don’t like white peaches,” was the comment. “I have some yellow peaches at home. I’ll bake one myself.” If you insist, Madam.
The month of August is quintessential peach consumption month. Believe me, I am crestfallen that my favorite yellow peach, the Red Haven is proving elusive. But that doesn’t mean I don’t show respect for the beauty and subtle flavor of the white peach.
White peaches are almost floral in flavor, less brazenly sweet than their yellow counterparts. Eaten out of hand, white peaches are still juicy but slightly more ladylike, a little less madcap. You might say white peaches are orchestral music played beneath a night sky while yellow peaches are jazz hands in front of a mylar curtain. Mother Nature has thrown a curve ball derailing an entire crop. This leaves hard working farmers in the lurch and peach lovers with empty wicker baskets. Maybe we can be a little flexible and appreciate what we have right here, right now, and stop bemoaning what isn’t available?
In a perfect pie world, fruit would peel itself and be blemish free. Fruit flies would bypass my ankles and pâte brisée would ease into pie plates all by itself. I wouldn’t have to hear that the double-crusted blueberry pie that had bubbled over was “aesthetically displeasing.”
It’s a good thing I’m not overly sensitive. In my line of work it’s beneficial to have a thick skin; more like a yellow peach, less like a white one.