In China, the world’s biggest producer today, peaches are not only a delicious food but also a mystical fruit. The Chinese have the saying, “The peach spring beyond this world”. They use it to describe secret, unspoiled natural wonders off the beaten path. The origin of this saying is a Chinese tale written two thousand years ago. One day, the fisherman in the tale discovers a “peach blossom valley” filled with magnificent wonders where the people lived in harmony with nature, away from the outside world. The peach blossom valley is a paradise where peach trees spread as far as the eye can see and the ground is covered with peach petals. Since that tale was written, peaches have been a symbol of immortality and eternity in China.
Large, light green “honey” peaches grown near Shanghai from July to August are said to be the world’s juiciest peaches and have a stunning aroma. In China, the peach is rubbed for a few minutes before eating to release the juice and get the most out of the fruit. The skin is then peeled off and the peach is eaten without being sliced.
Peaches were brought to Iran and Anatolia from China, and then from Spain to America. This juicy fruit has been embraced not only in every kitchen and cuisine it encounters but also by every language. For example, idioms about peaches in English are positive and express happiness. In French, “peachy skin” is used to describe healthy, soft and pink skin. “Avoir la pêche” means being full of energy, happy and feeling great.
Now, let’s talk about how peaches are used in different cuisines. The first thing to mention is peach cobbler, which is popular in America, particularly in the southern states. This dessert is a must-have for summer buffets in Georgia, a.k.a. “The Peach State”. In this classic dessert, peaches are flavoured with spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, the fruit mix is topped with a simple, melt-in-the-mouth batter and then baked. When peach juice and the butter in batter start to bubble, the topping turns golden brown and the glorious smell fills the room, it is taken out of the oven and served hot with vanilla ice cream.