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updated: 8/21/2012 12:03 PM

Stir it up: Just peachy (and creamy)

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  • "An apple is an excellent thing -- until you have tried a peach," said George du Maurier, a 19th-century British cartoonist and novelist.

      "An apple is an excellent thing -- until you have tried a peach," said George du Maurier, a 19th-century British cartoonist and novelist.
    Marialisa Calta/Newspaper Enterprise Association

 
By Marialisa Calta
Newspaper Enterprise Association

This is the summer to try a peach.

Succulent, sweet, juicy peaches are in abundance, thanks in part (according to some news reports) to the drought that has hit many peach-growing parts of the country. Excessive rain, one grower told a TV reporter, makes the peaches watery and less sweet; dry conditions leave them smaller but tastier.

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What to do with all those peaches? The obvious answer: eat them.

"Peaches and cream" is not just a flattering description for a woman's complexion; it's a recipe for dessert! Drizzle sliced peaches with a bit of light or heavy cream, or creme fraiche, and you have a heavenly dessert. Pair peaches with luscious Greek yogurt. Make peach shortcake.

Peaches, according to "The Oxford Companion to Food," are an ancient fruit that originated in China and became so popular they traveled the world. Persians claimed them as "Persian apples," and by the time of the American Revolution, even people in the United States thought they were native to this country.

Alan Davidson, editor of the "Oxford Companion," writes that peaches are the most celebrated fruit in literature, with the possible exception of the cherry. The Greek philosopher Theophrastus wrote about peaches, as did Pliny, Virgil, Emile Zola, T.S. Eliot and Mark Twain. Zola, apparently, was the originator of the "peaches and cream" description; he likened the complexions of the girls of southern France to that country's famous Montreuil peaches.

Renoir and Picasso loved to paint this sensual fruit. When legendary French chef Auguste Escoffier wanted to honor soprano Nellie Melba, he did it with peaches (and gave us peach Melba to enjoy ever after).

One of my favorite ways to enjoy peaches and cream is in homemade ice cream. The recipe below can't be beat.

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