Apples: A cultural guide

So many to choose from, so crunchy and sweet and so diverse in their origins, traditions and lifeways. So here’s your thumbnail guide to the ways, means and personalities of the citizens in the apple row of your produce section:

1. Red Delicious: Broad-shouldered, slender-hipped, exclusive, not too bright. The stereotypical jock. Most satisfying during the fall, then soft and avoidable for the rest of the year. Quote: “What are you looking at, pencil-neck?”

2. Golden Delicious: Pretty, sweet, looks great alongside Red Delicious (they’ve been dating for years), but just a trifle cloying and, frankly, dumb as a stump. “Why do you have to be so negative?” First few bites go down okay, but then there’s no there, there. Makes a good pie, tho.

3. Granny Smith
: Nothing like your granny. Witheringly tart, for one thing. Smokes, drinks and doesn’t care what you think about that. Mixes a bad-ass martini and don’t even try to keep up with her. Funny as hell.

3. Gala: Let’s just say that if you miss an episode of “Glee” you know who’s got it on their DVR. “Let’s put on a show!” Lots of comic references to “jazz hands” and other inside theatrical/choral whatevers. Knows everything about Sondheim, and can really, really sing. Extremely loyal friend, and sweet-natured, but sarcastic. That first bite will run zingers down your tastebuds. “Did I just say that?” Oh, no you didn’t!

4. Braeburn: Lives next door. Totally solid, not too tart and not too sweet, reliably crispy. Also has every tool known to man and will gladly let you borrow his shears or that obscure metric wrench thing, just toss it on his porch when you’re done. Sweatshirts and a perpetual day’s worth of stubble. Of course he’ll jump your car, doesn’t care how late it is. Take him to lunch or slice him up and toss him in a pie, he’s totally happy to help. Will bring beer, too.

5. Fuji: Soft-spoken, exceedingly polite, has one of those Buddhist rock gardens with the inscrutable patterns and the gong in the middle. Some kind of computer genius, designs code or something, no one really knows. Not a gobbling apple nor a pie/tart variety, Fuji can be transcendent when sliced thin and presented in an elegant array with hard cheeses, crackers and white or a lighter red wine. Enjoy with your shoes off, sitting cross-legged on a straw mat and hearing the breeze stir the blossoms through the air. 

(note: This appeared originally on my culture blog at Oregonlive.com (a/k/a the Oregonian’s website). There’s more here.

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