Grilled Fruit 5 - Apricots (Perfection)
Best description: Oozes sophistication
It's the taste that accounts for the perfection. Tastes are of course notoriously hard to describe. "A matter of taste" refers to something that is not quantifiable and not amenable to objective standards, the way weight is, for example.
But some things can be said, starting with the balance between sweetness and tartness -- a balance that grilling affects. The apricot is neither sweet nor tart, or rather it is both at one and the same time. Then there is strength-- the taste is not in any way overpowering, but rather is subtle, not at all punchy, like a grapefruit. Beyond that we get into words like "sophisticated". A Red Delicious apple, for example, has a taste that is straightforward, even crisp and clean, but it would be odd to describe it as sophisticated. An apricot, on the other hand, oozes sophistication.
The taste of the apricot tantalizes because while you are eating one, and enjoying the taste, you are at the same time wondering how something can taste this good. And you are also wondering whether you could eat a dozen in one sitting.
Grilling apricots is simplicity itself, but not often done, certainly not often enough. The grilling affects that wonderful taste, that balance, ever so slightly, but also interestingly. More below.
Grilled fruit #5 - apricots
Just as the taste is hard to pin down, the origin of the apricot is not certain, likewise the history of its cultivation. That says a lot because agricultural products this valuable are usually heavily documented -- people who grow them and people who eat them want to know as much about them as possible. But in the case of the apricot, origin fades into the mists of time.
One place that is long associated with the apricot. a place dimly perceived through those mists, is Armenia. Armenia is itself hard to get a clear focus on, swimming as it does with a religion that contrasts sharply with the ocean that surrounds this landlocked country. But apricots are known to have been grown there for thousands of years. Still, there is evidence that the apricot may have come to Armenia from China or India.
The apricot is in the same genus as the plum. I personally think an apricott tastes nothing like a plum, nor is the texture of the flesh similar. Botanically, though it is in the genus Prunus.
Alexander the Great
Yes, he is credited with seeing that the tree which grows this luscious fruit was brought back from Persia, where it had also grown since great antiquity.
Undoubtedly, military genius and fruit genius go hand in hand.
Though to anyone, even including people on the other end of the military genius scale from Alexander, a fruit that looks this good when halved has to be of unusual value. Something very special. There's no other fruit like it.
On the grill
While they are grilling, a couple of minutes per side -- at the most -- on a preheated bill, we can discuss buying them.
Most of us will get them at the supermarket, of course. That's where these came from. The problem with these, of course, is that they are picked early so that they will arrive in the market with as few losses as possible, losses to rotting or even just to over-ripeness. You can buy these under-ripe apricots and let them ripen on your shelf. It works fairly well.
Ideal, though, is to find them in season in an area where they are grown and sold in roadside stands, like the far end of Long Island or a number of places in California's Central Valley.
This short time on the grill affects that sweet-tart balance, though in no way adversely. This starts by enhancing both sweetness and tartness.
Technically, enhancing both shouldn't affect the balance, but it somehow does, with sweetness getting a very slight emphasis.
More notable, of course, is the change in texture. There's art here, art which calls for our greatest skill: just enough time on the grill to get the grill's benefits, but not so long that the apricot becomes too soft. (Actually, it is still great when quite soft, but even better when the grilling is just right).
Can perfection be enhanced?
Maybe not. But some raspberry sorbet and a little blackberry sauce at least are there on offer.
No one will blame us if we take a nip or two while reveling in the taste of the grilled apricots themselves.
What a magnificent dessert this makes. Light, healthy, quick -- but above all full of taste.
Apricots -- grilled apricots -- go wonderfully with blueberries -- grilled blueberries!
Who wouldn't be knocked out if served with this dessert?
For the unusual and special idea of grilling blueberries, click here. You can come back.
A bigger pic
Apparently, Armenia, China and India can all lay claim to being the origin-site of the apricot. Apricots are one of those fruits which have been pleasing us for so many thousands of years, that the exact origin-story is obscured somewhat by layers of mist.
Let us not forget to praise the dried apricot. I don't see how these could be added to the grill, but perhaps one of those of you who will comment here will tell us how this can be done. Although Turkey has long been the world's leading producer of dried apricots, to my taste buds they are not at all as good as those produced in, say, California. You can get dried apricots dried using sulfur or without using sulfur. Those with sulfur have the original orangish color of the fresh apricot, while those without sulfur are a dark brown. Those with sulfur are softer and chewier.
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