Thursday, June 28, 2012

Five highlights of the past year

In case you missed them.

1. Best "new" variety
Reine de Reinettes
My favorite "new" apple of the past year is Reine de Reinettes. (New to me: she is hundreds of years old!) This apple's wonderfully complex pallette of flavors really bowled me over. (Not to mention the etymological digression.)

Sadly I only got two, so I hope to find more of these beauties next fall.
2. Many great choices
La Reine had some stiff competition in the "best new apple" department. I am pleased to remember the sheer variety of apples, old and new, available last year. I reviewed more than 30 apples for the first time, bringing my total over 150.

Decisions, decisions
I love tasting new apples, but increasingly appreciate familiar ones too. The things I've learned writing about apples also enrich every trip to farmers market or orchard as I seek out the best varieties du jour, familiar and otherwise.

3. Try something new
Last year I launched my "So you like..." series, aimed at helping readers move slightly out of their eating ruts to try a few new things based on their favorites.

Of these, "So you like Honeycrisp" is modestly popular, according to comments and web logs (which do not track personal information, just clicks). I don't know if this reflects Honeycrisp's popularity or if fans of this super-sweet variety are more open than most to trying new things. If the latter, then the least curious fruit is Red Delicious.

4. Sweetango agonistes
In November the New Yorker published John Seabrook's essay Crunch about the new Sweetango apple. John had favored us with some advanced comments about Sweetango (in response to the above Honeycrisp post, since I had not reviewed Sweetango yet).

I wrote reviews of the apple, the essay, and of the whole idea of "club apples" such as Sweetango. (Are these monopoly cartels good or bad?) Many comments ensued, and a good time was had by all.

For me, this was the intellectual highlight of the year. Who knew there was so much to think about?

5. The society of the fruit
Besides pleasing the senses and stimulating the mind, apples are a social fruit, bred and conserved by human cultures. My final highlight is a personal one--the lively and intelligent comments of readers this year, and my real-life meetings with a few of you last fall.

Here's to another rewarding harvest this year!

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