Peach Fuzz

1992: Twenty-two years old, and I’m an East Coast transplant living the San Francisco writer’s dream. I’ve been taking a fiction workshop out of a woman’s home in Noe Valley. It starts when she has all of us sound out an inner animal for the group.

My Philly cynic softens as I’m amazed at my ability to channel my inner Monkey publicly. Maybe it’s something in the water. During the days I sell advertising for a senior citizen newspaper, and at night I wander the fog-blurred alleys around Chinatown listening for the sound of tales told by Dashiell Hammett’s ghost. On Grant Avenue in North Beach, I wander into a hole in the wall called The Schlock Shop stuffed floor to ceiling with worldly junk and curiosities. Hats hang in clumps and jumbles from the ceiling, shelves are filled with kitsch and treasure—whales’ teeth, antique dentist tools, sock monkey dolls, political and labor buttons, old beer cans, Eskimo knitting tools, music scores, unmatched pieces of shaving kits, fountain pens scattered like pick-up sticks and urns stuffed with walking canes—its as if some exhausted and distant relative leaned in and said, “Here, just take it.” while trying to clean house after a death in the family. Stories abound from the stuff on the walls. I wander the store and find a treasure. It’s a straight edge razor with a mother of pearl inlaid handle – a blade for a 19th-century sea captain kind of guy. Excitedly I bring my find to the counter and put my purchase in front of the owner of the store. His craggy and dour face looks me up and down. “No.,” he says. “No what?” I say. A few people in line quiet down behind me to listen. Apparently, this happens once in a while. “No. I’m not selling this to you.” I’m not sure if this is some weird Jedi mind trick where now I’m supposed to mimic what he says and walk away obligingly, but I figure at least I’ve misunderstood. “I can’t buy this?” “Not from me,” he says. I stand there stunned, and he’s getting irritated. “Kid, I’ve got real customers here. I’m not selling this to you because you’re going to hurt yourself with this thing. Do you even shave that peach fuzz?” My whole body is getting hot. My inner animal gurgles like a drowning goldfish.

Shaving peach fuzz has become something of a trend in the peach world. Big and even small farms can use brushing machines now to remove or reduce the amount of fuzz on peaches. Plus farmers have also been able to “breed out” fuzz as they develop new varieties over the years. Although not easily accomplished in an office, to remove peach skin, you can drop peaches in boiling water for 10-15 seconds then quickly remove them and dunk in cold water. The skin will almost “slide off” if you peel it after this process. Of course, the skin of stone fruit, in general, is where many of the nutrients lie and, especially in certain plums, where the mix of sweet and tartness combine. Red color on peaches is an indication of more sunlight and thus more sugar in the fruit.

For more information on the fruit in your mix, this week check out this week’s mix.

Enjoy and be fruitful! – Chris Mittelstaedt

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