Summer; a three-month hiatus from classes and cold, the one thing that gets us through the last month of spring semester, and the only thing we talk about the first month of fall semester. Summer is a story that can be told in a thousand ways: through the places we went, the people we met, or the things we did. But I will tell the story of my summer in fruit.
My summer was blueberry picking with some of my best friends. At a local “pick-your own” orchard near my home a gallon of powder blue, quarter-sized berries will set you back fewer than twenty bucks. The heat of the sun, the thud of berries against the plastic bucket, and the ease with which the ripest ones tumbled off the vine made for a perfect Friday morning. The blueberry oat cookies made for a perfect Saturday night.
My summer was boxes of ripe strawberries, washed, cut, puréed, and baked into a flawlessly flawed strawberry cake, filled with chocolate ganache and topped with vanilla buttercream and delicately toasted coconut. Made with love for my coworker Marina, who worked a double on her birthday.
My summer was fresh cantaloupe, sitting in all its bright orange glory in gallon buckets, just waiting to be portioned down to quarts. Cold in gloved hands, and sweet in your mouth, the melon was a welcome addition to the hundred-degree kitchen and to a hundred salads of arugula, basil, pancetta, goat cheese, and chive crumb.
My summer was medjool dates, thick and plump, soaked in water and pureed into an impossibly sweet paste. Spread onto whole-wheat dough, sprinkled with raisins, nuts, and the all-important cinnamon. Dates and raisins, rolled up and baked into a perfect swirl, and devoured while still warm.
My summer was the cornucopia of fruit that is the country of Costa Rica. It was fresh pineapple and mango every morning. Sweet and tangy, yellow and bright, their juice making the perfect syrup for pancakes and French toast. Coconut that was pulled off of a tree with a clothes hanger stuck to a pole and cut open with a machete (Costa Rica’s Swiss army knife). Momochinoes, bright red and spiky, look lethal, but beneath a demonic exterior, lurks a sweet fruit reminiscent of a grape. Try just one and you’ll be grateful that vendors sell them on literally every corner. Plantains, ripe or green, cooked anyway, slippery and sweet, or starchy and delicious.
My summer was apples. Apples; devoured during five o’clock lunches, the halfway mark of a double. Apples filling up my shopping basket, weighing down my arm, upon every trip to the grocery store. Apples, the first thing I sought in the airport on the return trip from Costa Rica. My summer was many things and a lot of fruit. The places I went and the fruit I ate were wonderful, but my favorite place was probably home, and my favorite fruit? Apples.