We recently held our first ever Apple Fest at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge and, ever since, I have had apples on my mind! For me, apples provoke a range of memories and positive associations but, only recently, did I take the time to delve a little further into the history and science of this fruit.
When I was a child, we used to visit my grandparents’ place in Connecticut and, in their orchard, we were able to pick McIntosh apples straight from the trees. Eating an apple outside and, remembering the legend of Johnny Appleseed, I would try to plant the odd apple seed. When I did so, I always envisioned a bountiful apple tree heavy with fruit and looking precisely like the apple I was munching on. Little did I know that my seed, had it ever come to fruition, would have produced something very different. Apple seeds are heterozygotes meaning that, like human children, they often bear only a slight resemblance to their parents. This is why there are so many apple varieties!
The part of me that loves to spend time in the kitchen relishes this time of year – a time that has traditionally brought with it a slew of delicious, apple-derived dishes: apple pie, caramel apples and apple cider to name a few. The prominence of the apple in the American food psyche is nothing new. If anything, it is less prominent now than it was a century ago. In the 19th century, Americans were growing in the region of 14,000 distinct varieties of apples, a period in our history that has been called the “golden age” of pomology. Apples were reviewed with the same enthusiasm with which people now review movies! (more…)