Local Bites: Bobbing for Apples
Magnified apples appear and reappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
—Robert Frost, “After Apple-Picking”
From poetry to pies to school lunches to Snow White, apples are ubiquitous in our culture. Yet these juicy orbs retain perennial allure, capturing the imagination of Americans each autumn.
A member of the rose family, the apple is a botanical wonder. Every seed within an apple “contains genetic instructions for a completely new and different apple tree” and it is only because of grafting that we have consistent apple varieties (The Botany of Desire, Random House). Today, most of our apple varieties are derived from the Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Macintosh, and Cox’s Orange Pippin. However, as interest in local and natural foods increase, there has been movement dipping back into the diverse gene pool of apples. (Check out Timothy Egan’s “Restoration Harvest” post on nytimes.com, in which he asserts that the “Red Delicious…is to a fruit bowl what plastic surgery is to beauty.”)
For some unique and tasty ways to enjoy apples this season, try the first-course sautéed Maine crab cakes with poached local apples and bacon aioli at Sel de la Terre Long Wharf. At Back Bay, apples appear on the grilled flatbread with smoked chicken, apples, caramelized onions, and brie. Also, don’t overlook dessert—Back Bay features an oven roasted Golden Delicious apple stuffed with dried fruits, pecans, and cider caramel, accompanied with vanilla bean ice cream.
Of course, one of the best ways to apple-ify your autumn is by picking them yourself. The New England Apple Growers Association offers a great online guide to member orchards that offer picking opportunities. About three-fourths of the apples consumed in the U.S. are eaten fresh, but there are an abundance of ways to prepare them at home too. The second to last issue of Gourmet features a wonderfully whimsical recipe for red wine caramel apples calling for the Macintosh—perhaps a yummier alternative to bobbing for apples on Halloween!