Thursday, October 14, 2010

Knobbed Russet: A Darned Fine, Though Ugly, Apple


This Knobbed Russet was one of the best -- hmm... maybe the best -- apples I've ever eaten. It is not, however, one of the best apples I've ever looked at.

"Knobbed" is not an adjective I want used to describe my fruit. "Knobbed" is an adjective I want used to describe old-timey walking sticks sold at craft shops for tourists in Asheville, NC. "Juicy" is an adjective I want used to describe my fruit.

Luckily, the k.r. was both knobbed and juicy, unlike the mealy Sheep's Nose apple (another heirloom) I once bought from Cornell Orchards in Ithaca. What impressed me most about this dingy looking fruit was its aroma: like biting into a perfume bottle, but without shards of glass piercing your tongue.

Just another reminder, as if you needed it, that heirloom produce can blow supermarket produce out of the water in terms of depth, subtlety, and mildly off-putting, quaint names.

I'm reminded of something someone recently said to me while I was helping to prepare a post-wedding brunch in Chesapeake, VA. I paraphrase:

"I've tried growing organic but it just doesn't work. At least the vegetables are never pretty."

There a lot of things I dislike about that comment, but here's the most obvious. If the most important criteria for food was the normative standard for "pretty," wouldn't someone have eaten Cindy Crawford in, like, 1991?

Yet she lives. Therefore, eat knobbed apples.

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