I watch the summer throng shuffle through the window boxes, picking and discarding pies like oversized poker cards. They rifle through the blueberry which just last week, was a hot commodity. Some pause at the strawberry rhubarb, just recently a highly coveted limited edition, but now so less newsworthy, so early June.
In mid-July we’re pre-occupied with peaches and assaulted with peach pie inquiries. When and why not and how about now and what do you mean, not yet? The truth is, it’s hard to say. Perhaps more so than any other fruit of summer, pie worthy peaches are ready when they say they’re ready. They are the starlets of July and August, waiting to make a blushingly sweet entrance.
A few flats of early peaches have made their way into the bakery, not quite ready for prime time, requiring hibernation in brown paper bags to achieve optimum sweetness. It is best to let sleeping peaches lie, 3 or 4, occasionally more days before disturbing them. You know they are awake when the fragrance hits you as you cautiously open the Trader Joe’s bag and peer in.
This week, the peaches are marginally sweet, taunting of peach days yet to come. Stone fruit lemmings are flocking to the farmers’ markets, getting a little too up close and personal with the fruit. Green quart containers line gingham covered makeshift tables. The fragile fruit is over-handled, sniffed to death, tossed back pell-mell on the table, ruining the Rockette-like precision an early morning farm staffer worked hard to achieve.
Peach pie seekers are no better, pushing aside boxes until they uncover the lattice or the crumble or the double crust that calls to them. Then it is just a matter of time before someone calls to me, asking for an update on the pies bubbling in the oven. Taking a sip from a formerly fresh cup of coffee, I remind myself that a few short weeks ago, it was all about the rhubarb. From now until late August, it will be a peach pie-palooza until the Granny Smiths come rolling in followed in hot pursuit by orange gourds.
Non-peach enthusiasts will never understand what the fuzz is all about, the taste of summer dripping down your chin and permeating your fingers. For the rest of us however, those clamoring for summer’s sweetest stone fruit, the time is now. Gather ye peach pies while ye may.