The bounty of the harvest set out with increasing panache and sophistication.
But I was in California and stumbled on an extraordinary apple tasting entirely by accident.
Extraordinary because the tasting, a fund raiser for the California Rare Fruit Growers, featured 58 different varieties of apple, exactly half of which were unknown to me in person.
California has its own apple culture and set of native varieties, including the jaw-droppingly creative work of apple breeder Albert Etter about a century ago.
Maybe I shouldn’t say so, but these apple tastings, with their glorious assortments arrayed in tiny chopped bits on plates, are profoundly frustrating to someone like me.
|Ho! For the White Winter Pearmain.|
I like to take a whole apple, photograph it, spend time with it, eat slowly and deliberately, and document everything.
For me therefore these wonderful events are a high-pressure fire hose and I'm dying of thirst.
Nonetheless, it's not about me. It’s about a living demonstration of the wonderful breadth of variety of apples available beyond the supermarket produce section.
Here are pink and red fleshed apples, apples that taste of lemons or coconuts, chewy apples among the breaking crisp. Huge Jupiter apples and tiny crabs, russets and red stripes.
Pay attention to people’s faces at these things; the looks of startled amazement are worth the price of admission.
Whole apples were not available for the likes of me; there would be hundreds of people expecting to be fed.
Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to ask when they’d be knocking off. I came back at the end of the day and walked away with a small hoard of California apples.
Thanks to Freddy Menge and the other members of the California Rare Fruit Growers Monterey Bay Chapter for their pluck, their apples, and their generosity.
That’s my awesome California apple adventure. Click on any photo for a close-up, and stay tuned.