Excesses, it seems, are my M.O. this week. Last night, I canned a bushel of heirloom tomatoes (which melted into 12 quarts). I had considered simply freezing them, but satisfaction-wise there is nothing as fulfilling as rows of home-canned veggies. For both the sake of pleasure and pure, unadulterated conceit, I will store these in plain sight, where guests will be forced to ask, “Did you can those?” (That’s right, bitch, I’m totally stocked-up for winter. What about you?)
Up for tonight, apples. Our good friend Mike found a bountiful apple tree on the property of an abandoned house (location: for a multitude of reasons, undisclosed). On Tuesday, after some pub food and beer, he announced that he had “something” to “unload” on us and “could we go to your car?” Illicit substances? An abundance of marked bills? Paraphernalia? No, a backpack-full of apples. Gatherer Mike was taken with considering the miniscule carbon footprint of the hand-harvested, local fruit. Canning and saving seemed to honor his eco-conscious concern and be a good nearly-carbon-neutral approach, so when Christmas comes around, our dessert will be both succulent and sustainable.
But wait a sec, that’s too idyllic; I’m lapsing into food-writing la-la-land here. About halfway through the peeling and coring, I had forgotten about going green and Mike’s generosity and ailing Mother Earth, all I could think of was the poor bastard who had to sell industrial-strength apple corers to make ends meet. What’s the emotional sell? Door-to-door or phone sales? Key marketing points? And who, exactly, is the audience?
Housewives? At $140-a-pop, Mrs. McCafferty had better be baking more than a few apple pies. And she’d better have some muscle behind those pin-curls as well. Generally, it takes not one but two whacks in order to propel the apple over the blades and into the waiting receptacle. When it comes to the third blow, and you begin thinking, “Damn, I’m glad this thing doesn’t have feelings,” it’s time to change your technique.
Restaurateur? “No really, chef, give it a try. Just insert the apple, then smash the f**k out of it with this handy, maneuverable top part.”
Starry-eyed, hippie-type entrepreneurs? This is where they got Chris and me. Fresh out of grad school, we thought it sounded fun to travel to markets and festivals selling apples with caramel sauce and peanuts. But there’s the residual splatter/spatter (yes, think crime scene here) that makes the whole things less attractive to the consuming public. “Oh, I’m sorry, little boy, but that seed lodged in your cheek is totally lucky. Good thing you had your eyes closed.”
I’m well aware: this may unleash a storm of salesmen on my door step, whispering “Are those the people who bought the apple corer?” So let just me say now, we’re not in the market for grave plots; vacuums; large tubs of popcorn; international orphans needing sponsorship; meat, fish, or pre-seasoned poultry products; encyclopedias; human-grade dog food; or...No? Fruit you say? Well, come on in. I know just what to do with that.