Aphorisms from the Professor: Brillat-Savarin

Monday, December 14, 2009


As I've mentioned a couple of times now, my boyfriend and I ended up with quite a large accumulation of apples from our Fall CSA. The problem is that neither of us are big apple-eaters, both preferring the more tart apples (like Granny Smith) compared to sweeter red apple varieties we got from the farms. But last night I read the first section of Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire, and learned that apples are only the coolest fruit ever.

Did you know that the tree grown from an apple seed will bear no resemblance to the parent-fruit? Apples have such a range of genetic possibilities that they can actually cover the entire colour spectrum (seriously, blue apples can exist!), and if you find one that tastes good the only way to duplicate the tree (and by extension, the fruit) is by grafting. In fact, finding one good apple tree in your orchard was the number one way to get rich in 19th century America - most apple trees produced apples that were only suitable for making hard cider. As Pollan notes, the apple was America's grape, cider America's wine.

Today the market has narrowed the unthinkably large range of the apple down to just a few varieties (Red & Golden Delicious, Macintosh, Jonathan, Granny Smith) which, with the exception of the Granny Smith, cater to the narrowed, one-dimensional, 20th century definition of "sweet", which is nowhere near as complex as it once was when table sugar was not readily available. This smaller market that includes just a few varieties of apple is also why it is getting more difficult to grow apples - they are not allowed to evolve with their environment because they are essentially clones.

Anyways, you should read Pollan's book for more incredible thoughts about the apple. He is such a wonderful writer that although I am still not rushing to devour the apples we have left, I did immediately subject them to a photo-shoot.

1 comment:

  1. My friend,
    Instead of emailing you I'm commenting on your blog because I know that makes your heart soar.
    I have an exam Friday but will get in touch on Saturday to discuss my visit. And menu planning. Very excited for the menu planning.