Friday, July 23, 2010

Feeding Frenzy

To me, few things herald the arrival of summer with as much finality as a perfectly ripe peach.

Peaches begin to appear at the store in May. I bide my time until mid-June, watching and waiting, as they grow increasingly plump, colorful, and fragrant.

Then, I dip my toe into the swimming pool and buy just one. Smooth, round, and heavy for its size, in shades of sunset.

I take it home, place it gently into a brown paper sack, and wait for it to ripen.

Then, when the pressure of my fingertip leaves the slightest dent at the stem, I make my move. I rinse it gently under cool water, and standing over the sink, without knife, plate, napkin, or recipe, I bite in. I bite all the way to the pit, a big bite that wrinkles my nose and sends rivulets of nectar dripping from the tip of my chin and my elbow.

And just like that, in a frenzy of sweet, tart, popping of peach skin, gushing of nectar, it's gone. I'm rushing to the store for more, buying them up like they're going out of style.

Because for me, summer's always been too short, anyway.

I believe that the first peach of summer should be enjoyed just like that--standing over the kitchen sink, with complete abandon, with a satisfied little moan after each juicy bite, because suddenly you feel like you're completely alive after a long winter's sleep.

But invariably, because I lack self-control at the grocery store, I end up with more summertime fruit than I can possibly eat whole. And because I watch too many cooking shows (and read too many food blogs), I also end up with a head full of ideas for things to
do with it all.

One of the things I love to eat, but have never tried to make, is fruit salsa. I love any combination of sweet and savory, sweet and salty, or sweet and spicy. For the following recipe, I drew inspiration from Sarah at The Smart Kitchen and from Tom Kovacevich's Seasonal Fruit Salsa recipe at I made some changes to the recipe based on the ingredients I had on hand.

Peach Salsa
(makes about 2 cups)

2 medium peaches (I used one white and one yellow)
1/4 medium red pepper
1 scallion, white and green parts
1 T fresh lemon juice (I won't tell if you use bottled!)

  1. Cut peaches in half and remove the pits. Cut into quarters and slice out the clingy, fibrous stuff in the middle. Next, dice peaches into 1/4" pieces.
  2. Dice red pepper and scallion.
  3. Gently mix peach, pepper, and scallion with lemon juice.

The beauty of perfectly fresh ingredients is that even when prepared simply, they are delicious. I love basic preparations, because all of the possible variations are limited only by your imagination.

If I'd had a jalapeno, I would have added it because I love the heat. Torn cilantro or sliced basil would also have added a nice touch--I love the combination of peach and basil. Cumin may have added a nice kick without the heat.

The possible applications are also endless--Topping for a salad of butter lettuce and avocado? Relish for a burger, spicy sausage, or grilled tofu? Wrapped in a tortilla with fish or shrimp?

I enjoyed mine simply, with chips (Can I suggest Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato or Jalapeno? They're $2 at Whole Foods this week--BAM!), and then over tilapia.

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