Have you noticed that apples don’t taste like apples anymore? Though not a fan of the Wachowski Bros, I must say that the scene from the Matrix where the character Mouse says “You take chicken, for example: maybe they couldn’t figure out what to make chicken taste like, which is why chicken tastes like everything” has been on my mind. That’s how I feel about apples now.
Apples taste like each other or nothing, depending upon the apple. Sure, some are more sour – granny smith apples hit pucker sooner than golden delicious, but the quintessential appleyness seems to be missing from the fruit at the grocery.
And no wonder. Out of the 17,000 different kinds of apples recorded over history, how many are left? A handful, a basket full – not even a bushel. I bet the local grocery store has five or six, tops. Talk about disappointing.
So I’m on a quest. To find the apple. The real taste of an apple. Not the bland juiciness of a fuji or the mushy graininess of a red delicious. I want to find out what apples really taste like – the apples from the past, when apples had flavor. (You know, back in the same time when roses actually had a scent. When we hadn’t bred everything away for perfection.)
This weekend, we’ll be heading to the local farms to see what’s out there. I don’t expect really exotic selections like the Allum or the Arkansas Black, but perhaps we’ll find some gravensteins or pippins. Something with some character, some flavor, some zip.
Foodhistory’s chart of apples will be on my bookmarks for awhile while I scratch this apple itch. Maybe I’ll even look for a variety or two to plant in my own yard. I can’t help wondering when we all decided that blemish-free fruit was better than flavorful fruit? Is a year round supply of bland better than a few months of wonderful? I think not.
If you have any favorite apple varieties, please let me know so I can look for a local sample. I’d love to try them.