Purple Hair and Purple Plums

Popi’s brown Chrysler smelled of warm leather, 70s dashboard plastic, starched shirts, white mint Tic-Tacs, and something atomized that I couldn’t quite make out that felt powdery and sticky in the New Orleans summer heat. When we visited, there were two main trips my grandfather took in his car: to and from the airport (at the beginning and end of our journey) and to and from the Winn-Dixie grocery store (once a day) where we loaded up on devil food cakes, bacon, and coca cola. It was quite the childhood fantasy meal.

There was one other trip that he took weekly that didn’t quite register until I was much older. A trip that explained the mystery smell in his car: it was the smell of purple.
My dad always said that Popi was the trusted pharmacist that people would see in place of their doctors to whisper their ailments and take his remedies. He was an honest fella who tried to help folks. He was robbed three times at gunpoint in his career. The last time he was knocked out and locked in his storeroom. But he always stayed in business. When his business wound down, he finally hung up the white lab coat and traded in his Buddy Holly black specs for thicker, more grandfatherly ones, his reputation followed him home. My grandfather was a soap opera-loving, protector of purple and pink-haired ladies. Each week he’d dutifully make the rounds, stopping in neighborhoods across the suburbs of New Orleans picking up little old ladies and taking them to the hairdresser. I can say that while the remembered smell of powdered purple hair is a comforting one, I’m happy to have replaced it with the smell of summer purple plums.

There are two main trunks of the plum family that we see every summer: Red plums like the Santa Rosa and Red Beaut come from the Japanese family of plums. They generally have a light to dark-red outer flesh with yellow fruit inside. Some have varying degrees of redness that add complexity to the look and taste of the inner fruit. Purple or black, plums follow a European lineage and are represented by those with dark purple flesh on the outside and yellow fruit insides, such as Black Diamonds, Friars, and Tulares.

Local & Regional: We buy from regional farms whenever seasonably possible. To see what’s in your box this week, go to fruitguys.com and click on In The Mix. Then find your region for descriptions and pictures of your local and regional fruit mix. Enjoy and be fruitful!  chiefbanana@fruitguys.com

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