Dripping down my chin, sticky fingers from sweet free-flowing juice and a bliss smile stretched across my face. Yes, this was my first taste of a truly sun-ripened summertime peach. My father had purchased a big box from a gentlemen passing through our remote mountainous town in northern New Mexico. I had never seen such big, plump peaches in all my life…much less an entire box full. It was a warm day on our small porch of which I left sweet droplets of peach for the sun to dissolve. This is what happens when you come across a perfect peach, to be spellbound and caught in time, absorbed and willingly forgotten. I am sure others are exclaiming, “Yes!” And if not...this must change.
Exploring peaches on the dessert or savory side - both can be magical. Or, at least it should be magical. From bringing out the natural beauty, to learning what can accent and compliment, is the artful dance of cooking.
Peachy memories should be balanced with exploration. Looking to your own neighborhoods and regionally, asking where heirloom varieties can be incorporated and new memories tasted and celebrated, is all part of the "eat it, save it" motto. Right? I can remember the first baby carrots plucked from my Italian grandfather’s garden. Tiny explosions that made you greedy for more. Transformative. And what about my great Uncle Joe’s cherry tomatoes he let me pluck from the tomato vines in his small green house? Oh, what small, round, bright red perfections! I remember him ushering me out of the tomato patch, hoping to save a few before my fingers found them all.
And with this find of local flavor from ripening in the hot sun and absorbing minerals from the living soil, it seems that nature itself begs us to blend, chop, splash and marinate in the diversity. I claim myself a chef but I want to be much more. What about a flavor-memory-forager, or shall we just call it an FMF? I want to challenge my edge (and your edge) with making exquisite dishes that can bring out sweetness, richness and create these experiences into memories that capture the health of our soil and soul, safe guarding these gifts of diversity. Combining whole grain flours (and dare we add ancient heirloom wheat varieties) to create tender tart doughs or pasta doughs. We can truly create a resilient colorful kitchen if we just let the juices of our imagination flow...like a peach.
Come and create your own flavor memories at the Gardens with one of Deja's upcoming peach classes: Cooking With Peaches: Sweet (August 15) and Cooking With Peaches: Savory (August 20). Visit us online or call the Gardens at 720-865-3580 for more information.
Guest Blogger: Deja Walker