20 September 2007

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, er, Peaches

At 6:00 AM, between the beginning of May to just short of Christmas, you will find me at the downtown Baltimore Farmers Market each and every Sunday that I'm not at the beach. During every phase of peach and nectarine season, I'm on the prowl for the white varieties. Not to disparage regular peaches and nectarines, but the white ones are different fruits entirely. Their spellbinding perfume and liquor-like taste makes their intermittent appearance at the market a source of frustration for me.

As a foodie and a gardener and an artist, I find inspiration at this market even if I leave without the ultimate prize. No matter how scheduled the rest of the day will be, I try to relax and enjoy the time going round and round as the market wakes up and more wares come off the trucks and onto the tables. Only a few farmers are ready and waiting for early-birds like me. Luckily, one is Doug, my quince guy, who is also my main white peach and white nectarine guy. He's also my main bruised regular peach and nectarine guy. Two Sundays ago, he brought no bruised ones, but that disappointment was erased last Sunday, when the end of his table brimmed with baskets of gorgeous, and therefore, puzzling, cut-rate peaches. I truly couldn't discern the fruits' faults and didn't take the time to ask. Competition for this stuff can be fierce, so I've learned to claim my fruit, pay quickly, and go, and anyway, there's ample opportunity for conversation at quince time.

I was also a bit distracted because a treasured friend was expected at my house for an eight o'clock breakfast and I was pre-occupied with a work-related project. So I hurried home and dumped the dozen and a half not-quite-ripe peaches in the rare black yelloware bowl that holds pride of place atop my stove.

Breakfast with my friend might have been the only relaxing moment between Sunday and yesterday, when the peaches ripened. While I am jazzed and excited by my project, it has pretty much dominated my thinking and made me less than mindful about almost everything else. So imagine my surprise - and delight - when I opened the kitchen door and was knocked over by the fragrance from the bounty in the bowl. Not just peaches, but white peaches.

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