Essays

White Dixie Butter Beans

Peaches and Prosciutto

This summer will go down in the books as the Year of The Peach in Central Texas.  I haven’t seen peaches this good and this bountiful since my daughter was a little girl. In those days I would meet up with the farmer from Fredericksburg in the Randalls parking lot and buy cases of his big, blushing globes of sweetness. Back home, Elise would gobble them up as fast as I could serve them to her, my mother on the sidelines, using magic to get the stains out of her cute little outfits. 

Eventually, the peach man disappeared. For years it was hard to get a good Texas peach anywhere.  This year though, like a perfect storm, the peaches are back.  And it is very much due to perfect storms that they are with us.  It was storms that brought water but not hail, and storms that came early and not late. 
In the Year of the Peach I am now lucky enough to have them growing in my own yard. All the ways that peaches are used as metaphors for something lovely are easy to see when I look at these gorgeous specimens on my trees.
Abundance spawns generosity and creativity. We have given some away, I have made cobbler, bilinis and peach ice cream, each time looking for the right vehicle to spotlight what is already so very stupendous.
Cooking from my garden has lit up my taste buds and challenged me to first, work with what I have, then ask, “How can I do this delicious sustenance justice?” This week, going to the garden and harvesting what I had, I cooked a small pot of butter beans served with orichetti doused in homemade pesto. Those beans never had it so good. Their creaminess was a perfect compliment to the pasta and garlicky pesto, if I do say so myself. A simple meal but we relished every bite.
Last evening, I didn’t feel like cooking. I looked in the fridge and saw several of our peaches still uneaten. There was also cantaloupe from our friend’s garden. Growing up, my Sicilian father would take sweet honeydew and wrap it with prosciutto. Might sound odd, but a good combo. Okay, so how about a variation on that theme? My first instinct was to try the cantaloupe with the prosciutto. This was just too sweet or something. Didn’t work for me. But alas, I grabbed one of those gutsy peaches and sliced it and wrapped a piece of that not too salty ham on it. We have a winner.
Who knows what next year will bring? The lesson in the garden is that it is a gift. The rhythm of life plays out through its bounty. You win a few, you loose a few. A good gardener knows you can only control so much.

Come what may I will long savor the summer of peaches and prosciutto.