Life’s A Peach
The first time I ever had a peach was during our first family road trip in the U.S.A. It was about eight months after we set foot on the land of the free, and we were going to meet our step-grandparents for the first time. That year was definitely full of many firsts for my sisters and me. The trip was a 350-mile drive from South Carolina to Anniston, Alabama. My mom, stepdad, my two sisters, and I settled on our seats in a 1980 silver Chrysler Cordoba my stepdad owned at that time. My stepdad drove while my mom held the map in the front passenger seat trying to navigate our way through I-85S. My youngest sister nestled between my older sister and me in the backseat. The southern heat and humidity during that long drive was almost unbearable, even for us…and we grew up in the tropics! It felt like the longest six hours of my teenage life. The drive took longer than it should have because of my stepdad’s penchant for road trips. He never rushed to get to a destination. He enjoyed the scenic routes as he listened to Pete Fountain play his clarinet on the cassette player. I was grateful to have brought my Walkman.
One of our stops was at a roadside peach stand, conveniently located next to a CITGO filling station in Jefferson, Georgia. While filling up the land boat with petrol, my stepdad insisted we should get some peaches since we were in the Peach State. According to him, Georgia peaches are the best. I didn’t even really know what peaches were at that time. I grew up in a world of mangoes, papayas, pineapple, coconuts, jackfruit, guava, passion fruit, watermelon and a long list of other tropical fruit that only existed in Southeast Asia. Besides, I couldn’t have cared less, and just wanted to get to wherever we were going. But because he insisted (and because there was nothing else to do), I allowed myself to try a peach.
Boy, was I glad I did!
At that exact moment, my eternal love for the stone fruit was born. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to peel the fuzzy skin, but quickly realized that it was part of the charm. My first bite was perfect. It had the unexpected crisp texture once my teeth sank into it, then the soft and juicy flesh followed. It was sweet and a little tart at the same time. That moment transported me to a new world inside my already new world. I knew then that I would forever miss my birth country, but I also knew that my new home would bring with it many new things. If this first taste of the US was this good, then the possibilities were endless!
Since then, during summertime, I do my best to eat as many peaches as I possibly can. Peaches are at their best for only a short stint every year, and that is really the only time for me to really enjoy it. I like peaches in pies and cobblers, salads, salsas, or sauces. I love it simply as-is, eaten on its own, or with fresh cheese like burrata or ripe brie. Any way you do it, when they are in season, peaches never disappoint.
Three weeks ago, when my husband and I decided to host a small gathering for friends, we created a simple menu of our favorite summer eats. Hamachi crudo, tomato salad, my grandma’s corn soup, and chilled noodles were among the offerings. My favorite was the dessert made of peaches poached in prosecco and honey. Lightly sugared on top, torched to get a caramelized top, then served with whipped cream, crushed candied walnuts, blueberries, and reduced poaching liquid. It was a simple dessert but it was also grand in its own way.
The entire evening was magic. The joy of seeing old friends, meeting new ones, breaking bread, and consuming a nearly unimaginable amount of sauvignon blanc with other people after many months of not being able to do so, was overwhelming. Everyone was sharing stories, expressing dreams, confiding in friends and strangers, laughing, hugging, and of course, eating. The dinner was also a chance to remember the past. My grandma’s corn soup always gives me warmth, and talking about her keeps her close to me. I was happy to share her gift with my friends. The memory of my stepdad and his old car was unexpected, though. It took this dinner party to remind me how much I appreciated that first road trip and that old boat of an automobile, which I ended up driving when I went to college. I am grateful for my first peach, and grateful for the hundreds thereafter. I am thankful for the many firsts in my life, of which many led to seconds, thirds, fourths and so on.
I am fortunate to know that life can be a peach in any place in any season.
To celebrate the last days of summer, I would like to share with you the recipe for our peach dessert. I hope you get to enjoy more sunny days and share something sweet with someone who you think is a peach.