eighty-eight cents a pound.

Sandra fun fact #24 : my favorite fruit is the nectarine.

As some foolish people may believe (like me prior to some research for this entry), the nectarine is not a hybrid between the peach and the plum. The nectarine is just the peach's sweeter and less hairy cousin; I have one of those myself. The name of course comes from the word "nectar" and refers to the nectarine's sweetness. California now grows over 95% of the nectarines grown in the United States.

Nectarines found in the store are usually about 2 or 3 days away from prime ripeness. To slow ripening, refrigerate. To hasten it, put in a closed paper bag. To let nature take its course, put in a decorative bowl and enjoy the fruit as a natural fresh scent-maker. You could even paint a pretty picture of the bowl with the fruit and call it "Lunch, in 2-3 Days."

Nectarines are right where peaches went wrong. Peaches are okay, but they taste a little funky to me. Some people eat them with sugar, a thing that would never ever be necessary with a nectarine. And that fuzz, it just bothers me. Plus, when you eat a peach, there is just juice running all over the place. I find it distracting. A nectarine would never dribble all over your chin like that.

Food Lion had the most excellent sale a couple of weeks ago. I buy nectarines whenever the price goes below a dollar a pound (or if I am just really depressed). It usually runs about twice that during the summertime. I don't even bother looking in the winter. However, Food Lion was nice enough to provide nectarines for the lovely price of $0.88 a pound. Just so you know, I went to Food Lion three times that week, for completely unrelated things. But each time, I came home with a couple pounds of nectarines in my clutches.

There was a young guy at Food Lion squeezing the nectarines. I came up and began doing the same. Actually, I got a bag first and followed my squeezing by putting some fruit in bags, something he seemed unsure about. Sensing that I was not a nectarine virgin, he asked me, "How do you tell a good nectarine?" I immediately wanted to correct him, saying, "Okay, first of all: every nectarine is a good nectarine," as if I were some sort of optimistic social worker for delinquent fruit. But I resisted the urge, and instead told him I was just squeezing for ripeness. He said he was trying to do the same thing, but that nectarines "don't squeeze the same as peaches." Well, obviously. They squeeze better. Again, I had to hold myself back, because I did want to start a lecture on picking fruit of varying amounts of ripeness so that one could enjoy the nectarines over a period of time. Or I could have told him the ripening tips above, had I known them at the time. Then the young man would be afraid of nectarines for the rest of his life, because of the zealous girl at the grocery store. He would never buy them again.

Not even at $0.88 a pound.

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