illustration by pierre lamielle
Finding the sweet life is not easy and neither is finding the perfect peach. Without the struggle, you will never truly appreciate the moments of pure perfection.
With life you need to work hard, sweat and struggle to fully appreciate those fleeting moments of happiness. The same goes for peaches. You can’t appreciate a perfect peach if someone just hands it to you on a silver platter.
Would there be a Mario Bros. video game if Mario just had to stroll over to a pantry for canned peaches? No, he has to scroll through level after level of killer piranha plants, murder-turtles and a fire-breathing Bowser to rescue Princess Peach.
And peaches are very difficult to grow. An organic peach is almost impossible to find because they are so delicate and prone to infection, rot and attack by insects. They require a delicate climatic balance, careful attention and a lot of luck just to bear fruit.
A few important facts about peaches
Peaches likely originated in China and spread throughout Asia where they have loads of cultural significance, from fertility and good fortune to protection against evil influences. All the things you need for a happy life.
The legendary Japanese folk hero, Momotaro or “peach boy,” was born from a big peach. He defeated a demon army with his animal friends. It was quite an adventure, but totally worth it to reclaim the demon army treasure and liberate his people.
When a peach tree does bear fruit, the peaches offer a miniscule window of eating opportunity. Peaches go off very quickly and many peaches from far away places are picked way before they are ripe and shipped green in order to make the journey to Canada unscathed. They change colour on the way, but their flavour never gets better. A perfect peach needs to be eaten off the tree under the warm sun where it has the chance to sweeten naturally and emit its enticing aroma. It can’t travel far without bruising or spoiling. A ripe, bruised peach from British Columbia will bring you more happiness than an unblemished peach from Colombia.
The different kinds of peaches
There are many kinds of peaches, from white to orange, and from big and round, to small and flat. Freestone peaches pull away from their pit while Clingstones hold tight. Neither is better or riper; one just has a better grip. For the record, a nectarine is a peach with one recessive gene that makes it unfuzzy. They have been known to grow on the same tree together.
The best way to know if a peach is fresh is to engage your olfactory faculties. Your nose knows. Give the peach a sniff and, if it makes you feel all warm and peach-fuzzy inside, it is ready to be eaten.
Finding the perfect peach
There’s no way around it. The pursuit of the perfect peach requires a road trip.
Pack the car and head to the Okanagan between late July and September and keep your eyes peeled. This is not a trip to the produce aisle; this is a quest for something magical. A visitor centre will be able to help direct you, but what’s even more fun is looking for handwritten U-pick signs. Good luck!
Peach-worthy pursuits are worth the journey.
You could have the most perfect peach in the world and there will still be people who hate peaches. But hey, life’s a peach.
A slice of peach wrapped in prosciutto, a pork roast with roasted peaches, fatty ribs doused in peach and bourbon barbecue sauce. The salty fattiness of pork with the sweet, juicy fragrance of a peach makes everybody squeal.
There is nothing better than a warm, ripe peach from a tree. But it’s also lovely when your sun-dappled peach gets enveloped in a soothing blanket of fatty cream. Simply dive peach pieces into a cool pool of cream and enjoy with a silver spoon.
Peaches are rather delicate, but their fragrant flavour can stand up to the heat of fiery ginger. A ginger and peach cocktail may not be a thing, but it should be.
A play on carpaccio, thin slices of fresh peach are topped with yummy flavours in a spectacular presentation. Serves 6 as a starter.
1 tbsp. white vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
pinch of saffron
pinch of salt
Parmesan cheese, curled with a carrot peeler
Fresh basil leaves, whole or hand torn
6 slices prosciutto, hand-torn
cup almond slivers, toasted
Fresh-cracked black pepper or thin-sliced red chili peppers (optional)
6 slices lightly toasted or grilled bread for serving
Make the mayonnaise by combining the saffron and vinegar, giving it a little swirl and adding the mayonnaise and salt. Mix it smooth and set it aside in the fridge. It will take a few hours for the saffron to permeate the mayo.
Using a very sharp knife and the cutting skills of Momotaro, or using a Japanese mandolin, start slicing one side of the peach into very thin rounds. This can be tricky if the peach is very ripe. Just try your best.
When you get to the pit, flip it over and do the other side. When you end up with a peach puck with a pit in the centre, you can stop. Save that part for snacking or dicing up on your waffles.
Arrange the slices of peach in an overlapping pattern on a very large plate. If you spread it out nice and wide, you’ll have more surface to cover with other yummy stuff.
Now you can start to arrange the other yummy bits on top. Place little bloops of mayonnaise scattegorically around the plate. You don’t need to use all the mayo, just enough to make it look and taste good. If you have a squeeze bottle, you can use it to get really precise with your blooping and make fancy patterns.
Arrange the hand-torn prosciutto around the plate, scatter on some whole or hand-torn basil leaves and parmesan curled with a vegetable peeler.
Add the toasted almond slivers, red chili pepper slices or fresh cracked black pepper.
Serve the plate chilled or at room temperature with toast on the side.