Last Saturday, I got the call of the Colorado peach. It has been 2 ½ months since I ventured to the Boulder Farmer’s Market. This morning, I roll into the downtown lot at 9 hoping I’ll find a spot. My good parking karma works. I find a short line at Morton’s Orchards, with a fortyish couple in hiking clothes in front of me. They pay and go. Thin and strong.
What an exercise in patience to stand silently in line, no coffee yet, eavesdropping on the conversations of other peach-hungry people, eying their hats, market bags, T-shirts. Am I like them? Well, yes: we all want Morton’s organic peaches.
“What can I help you with?” the young woman asks.
I am far from a wealthy person. But, paradoxically, the lesser grade of peach is preferable in a salad. I say, “Do you have a box of seconds?”
“I just sold our only box.”
Maybe I’ll come back and they’ll have one. But another staffer says, “We do have another box. “
We shall have a fine salad. For $10, I get 10 pounds of mildly bruised Colorado peaches, ripe, and the sweetest I have ever tasted.
The rest of the morning is a nice check-in with Aspen Moon Farms, Fresh Herb Company, and Fior di Latte (another time I’ll buy some gelato; they are making Morton’s peach sorbet), Red Wagon, Black Cat, Cure Organic Farm, Oxford Gardens, Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch, Full Circle Farms.
At the Black Cat Farm table, lusciously spread with fresh greens, I have a gift for Eric, the chef-farmer-restaurateur-cookbook author. He and his wife Jill arrive just then. I unwrap a slice of his Country Paté, laid out on a green and red speckled leaf of chicory that I harvested the day before. It has a dab of Edmond Fallot Tarragon Dijon mustard (Moutarde Verte A L’Estragon) on it.
Eric looks at it. He smells it, tastes it.
Why do we suffer so for compliments? He eats his own paté, lost in its fine flavor. When a chef-farmer-restaurateur-cookbook author does that, you know it’s good. And it’s his good recipe.
To the peaches. I open the car door, carry the box up, unpack with care fuzzy globes of crimson, coral, yellow. There are darkened bruises here and there. I plate them, a few broken skins with sweet juice escaping. Here is summer’s gift to us.
As children in Tennessee, we had peach ice cream on a Saturday afternoon. My family and neighbors churned it. We ran with glee, playing Kick the Can in the waning light. Our parents visited as if there were no such thing as death. We waited for the sweet cream to harden around the cut fruit. Cream, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, peeled peaches, ice, salt, that rough handle to push hard around and around.
Decades later, I am almost old. The peaches are young and fresh, ever the children. Now I enjoy them in a different way. The ripened No. 2 peach, picked by a farmer, trucked over mountains to me, reminds me of my own life journey.
Summer brings the mighty fruit of Mother Earth’s work. I hope you enjoy some sweet summer peaches. Here’s the salad I made to celebrate my Farmer’s Market foray.
A Good Supper for July (Salad with Peach)
Yield 1-2 servings
If possible, buy from your farmer’s market, or harvest from an organic garden:
- Butter lettuce
- A juicy red ripe tomato (never refrigerate)
- A cucumber
- 1 perfectly ripe peach (seconds are best)
- 5 leaves of mint
- 1 soft boiled egg
- Olive oil
- Fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- Wash lettuce, dry, and tear into bite-size pieces; lay in bowl.
- Cut a few wedges of tomato;
- Peel and slice thinly some cucumber;
- Soft boil the egg (in cold water, bring to medium boil; boil for 2 minutes; remove pot from heat, cover and let sit for 7 minutes); drain, cool and peel.
- Cut egg into fourths; cut peach into wedges and add to salad.
- Drink juice left on cutting board.
- Drizzle olive oil, then lemon juice over salad.
- Add mint leaves, salt and pepper. Toss gently.
- Sit down at your table with a cloth napkin, a fork and a knife. Give thanks and tuck in.