There are some activities in my home that would appear odd to an outsider.
Take my 2-year-old, for instance. It is not uncommon for him to walk past, pushing a chair or other piece of furniture. This indicates he is on a mission to scale some book case or reach the top shelf in order to retrieve a sought-after plaything. He might simply be looking for a sense of accomplishment. Why do people climb Mount Everest? Why does Carlton get on top of the buffet? Because it is there.
This summer, his climbing has taken on more of a hunter-gatherer purpose. He forages in the pantry for snacks and has lately taken to robbing the fruit bowl. This fruit filching isn’t really such a bad thing. I prefer he take from its bounty rather than eat fruit-like gummy snacks from the pantry.
A few weeks ago the family was in the – what else – family room, and after hearing the tell-tale scratches of a chair being pushed across a wood floor, we turned to see Carlton enter the room clutching a peach with both hands, his teeth in it to the pit and juice running down his hands and staining his shirt.
We have finally gotten to the place in our coupon-obsessed and budget-conscious family that we only buy fruit that is in season – here in the U.S. that is. As a result, the quality of our fruit has improved while its cost has declined.
As former residents of what the locals call “Middle Georgia,” we have a fondness for the Fort Valley-based Lane Packing Company’s peaches. We’ve been lucky enough to find them in the produce section of our local grocery stores, and we’ve been enjoying their delicious peaches since June. But Carlton’s rogue and seemingly random indulgence in the fruit has caused a debate within our family.
Are you supposed to eat the skin of a peach?
My wife is adamantly opposed to it. Anything with fuzz on it should not be consumed. I learned last weekend that she gets this from her mother who grew up peeling peaches because that’s how her family has always done it.
In my younger days, it never occurred to me to not eat the skin. It’s part of the peach. As an adult I’ve come to understand the nutritional value of the skins of lots of fruits and vegetables – once the pesticides and herbicides have been safely washed away. But even as an innocent child, I assumed that you ate a peach with the skin on.
So which is it, peeled or fuzzy?
Carlton has it right, in my mind. A well-ripened peach, slightly soft and aromatic, should be thoroughly experienced, skin and all. Your teeth should occasionally bump into the hard pit. The juice should run down your chin to your hand and even down your arm.
A peach is one of life’s simple pleasures. I’m not interested in debating the superiority of Georgia vs. South Carolina or even, heaven forbid, California peaches. I’m just glad Carlton has discovered a snack worth climbing for.