We were grocery shopping today, as usual–and as usual around this time of the year, my wife (the produce, fruit, and meat expert: I’m good at pushing carts and choosing my own weeknight dinners) was having trouble finding good fruit. (Apples give her trouble, ditto oranges; at the end of April/beginning of May, most pears are past season, the mangos and papayas have been lousy lately, Texas pink grapefruit seem to have disappeared from our markets, and it’s too early for summer stone fruit. There are almost always kiwifruit, to be sure, and Ataulfo mangoes are sometimes OK…and, to be sure, the organic strawberries are good). We’re both too busy to seek out fancy produce markets, but this is Northern California, where regular supermarket produce is usually plentiful and varied.
To our surprise, we saw a small display of apricots–and they looked good.
Understand: I grew up in apricot country. I know what real apricots–fresh, just-off-the-tree, apricots (esp. Blenheims)–taste like. Apricots just don’t ship very well; other than dried, canned, or frozen, what makes it to market is generally either unripe or just bad. We won’t normally even bother. We’ve planted a Blenheim tree, and hope to have some of our own later.
But these looked plausible. End of the first week of May? Awfully early, but…
And we do try to buy local produce whenever possible. We asked: These were from California. One of the knowledgeable produce guys said they’d just come in. Not badly priced at $2.99 a pound.
My wife tried one this afternoon, and gave me half. It was excellent–not the dead-ripe sweetness you sometimes get just off the tree, but nonetheless excellent. But there was something odd: The aftertaste wasn’t that of an apricot. It was the dead-on aftertaste of a plum.
Aha! The little labels on the fruit said “Aprium,” which we assumed was just another apricot variety. After all, we’ve had plumcots (straight plum/apricot crosses) and Pluots (a trademarked plum/apricot ‘interspecies’), and found them to be plums with no particular apricot flavor. Not bad, but not apricots.
Checking online, I find that an Aprium (somehow, “Apriums” just sounds wrong and “Apria” is unlikely) is indeed an apricot/plum ‘interspecies’–from the same company in my home town that developed Pluots. The Aprium looks like an apricot and tastes like an apricot with an overlay and aftertaste of plum. I’m guessing that it ships better than an apricot. (That wouldn’t be hard.)
(My home town is Modesto: heart of the Great Central Valley, heart of the world’s richest agricultural country, with too much hyper-productive land being turned into subdivisions for people crazy enough to spend 3 or 4 hours a day on a Bay Area commute. George Lucas was a high school classmate. I never knew him. End of digression.)
If you’re opposed to all hybridization, you’ll want to avoid the Aprium. But you’ll want to avoid almost all modern fruits and many flowers and other plants anyway. My cousin grows almond trees–but he makes more money selling cuttings of his blight-resistant hybrid almond tree, which he developed, than he does selling almonds. Hybrids and interspecies have been around for a very long time.
And a tiny little semi-blind item that will tell a few people a little more about my down-to-earth taste in television (this time via VCR, since I don’t stay up until 11 p.m.): It’s pretty clear that UW’s philosophy department has one less student than it used to.