|A garland of Ladies contra-dance against the October sky|
The tight clustering of Ladies on the bough accounts for the dappled pattern of blush over the cheerful spring green peel: red where the sun shone, green for the shadows of fruit.
The blush itself ranges from streaky to a saturated cherry red corresponding again to the quality of sunshine.
Lady varies in shape but seems to be typically oblate with little or no ribbing, though there's more ribbing in some.
Nowadays Lady Apple, harvested late in the season, is a traditional holiday decoration. I've tried some from supermarkets and been unimpressed. But a reader recommends them, and I had a chance to buy a few direct from their farmer, who also said she'd been drawn to snack on Lady this fall.
There must be some reasons we've kept Lady with us since Roman times. Shall we find out what it is?
Lady's flesh is a beautiful fine-grained snowy white with some green highlights, each bite crunching off nice and loud. She oxidizes quickly.
Her flavor is light and delicate, balanced with sweet notes and no acidity. The dominant taste is sweet but there is a savory, nutty quality as well, though this is watered down. These tastes conclude with a lovely minty note. A bit like spearmint.
I find I do like Lady very much. The juxtaposition of these flavors versus their tentative expression is curious and light and wonderful. It takes about three bites to dispatch one, plus nibbles.
Okay, about that Roman thing. Many sources are willing to say that Lady may be "the Appian Apple of the Roman Empire." My skepticism is naturally aroused when I find a single phrase like that repeated verbatim with no further information or attribution. Where is the scholarship?
The assertion that the apple dates from the Forest of Apis in Brittany in the early 17th century seems to be on firmer ground (some say earlier). In the United Kingdom, where Lady is better known as Api, the National Fruit Collection supports this story.