I was mountain biking in Jamaica several years ago when our guide — a not-quite-linear man who came from Ohio — led us astray. We found ourselves hungry, out of water and a long ways away from our Negril accommodations.
The four of us on the ride were cotton-mouthed, morosely pushing pedals on the seemingly endless journey back, when we suddenly came across a mango tree that had peppered the ground with perfectly ripe, juicy fruits.
We threw down our bikes, and pounced. Barely pausing to rip the skins off, we mashed mangoes into our mouths, loud slurps accompanied by low moans. Dozens of fruits slid down four throats before anybody spoke.
Our cheeks and mouths were stained orange-yellow. Thick ropy strings of mango fiber stuck between our teeth. At that moment, the mangoes transcended mere food and became a kind of life-giving nectar.
Here in Colorado, where the latitudes forbid mango fruticulture, we enjoy similarly carnal experiences with peaches. Mangoes are heavenly, but a Western Slope peach might make a superior fruit simply because you need not floss five times a day to rid your grill of fibrous byproduct.
The Western Slope peach harvest began in July and will draw to a close very soon, within the fortnight. Though peach season concludes in September every year, it’s especially painful now, given that some growers are proclaiming 2018 a legendary year for Colorado’s Prunus persica due to consistently warm weather and a lack of kamikaze frosts.
Me, I inhaled a cargo container of Palisades this summer, biting into lots of them right out of the bag. Given the quality of ‘18’s harvest, I should cook a bunch with peaches before they go away. I’m really intrigued by the idea of peach salsa, because anything tasty before the word “salsa” usually promises my tongue a good time.
So far this season, I’ve only cooked peaches two ways. A delectable peach crisp, loaded with brown sugar and cinnamon, browned up from a recipe found on the internet. And Rob’s Famous Peach Waffles™ were vastly improved after the chef finally won a battle of wits with the Krusteaz box. For years, I blended peaches with all the ingredients listed on the waffle-mix box — one of which is water. So stupid! Waffles don’t need tasteless H2O when the chef’s smart enough to moisten batter with Nectar of the Gods and the Western Slope.
Our peaches taste like … I don’t know … ecstasy in an orange ball. As Lindsey Koehler wrote four years ago in 5280 Magazine, “The fruit is juicy, but it’s the candylike taste of a Palisade peach that makes it remarkable. Pitted against peaches grown in California, Georgia, and South Carolina, the Colorado-grown fruit is worth about twice as much per ton (whether that can be explained by economics or the sublime flavor is up for debate).”
I admire peaches’ ease of entry. Think of peach logistics. Unlike an orange, you can bite right through the fruit’s skin to the sweet stuff. Unlike an apple, every last bit of fruit falls off the interior inedible shit.
Actually, I shouldn’t speak poorly of peach pits. The easy locating and removing of pits make peaches easy to eat. They enjoy a healthy ratio of flavorful wonderment to inner core. Peaches might be our most efficient fruit if only they didn’t jizz so much sticky sweetness over our fingers. In fact, my girlfriend calls ripe Palisades “sink peaches,” because they’re so juicy you need to eat them over the sink.
We’re lucky to live near the orchards of Fruita, Grand Junction and Palisade. The nourishing waters of the Colorado River drain well through the soil, and 285 days of sunlight each year supply plenty of energy for photosynthesis.
Driving by those orchards, I yearn to sing the Steve Miller lyric, “Really love your peaches, want to shake your tree.” In the end, however, I do not sing like Steve Miller because, c'mon, they’re the finest peach trees in the land, and they’ve heard that line a million times already.