Oh, What a Peach Can Teach
Have you ever tasted a peach? I’m not talking about the impostors at the grocery store that you could chip a tooth on. I’m talking about a genuine, picked-right-off-the-tree peach. I tasted one. Once.
It was while driving through Colorado on the way to a family reunion that my family and I purchased one at a roadside fruit stand.
Holding the foreign object in my hand, I first noticed its size. The peaches I was used to were half the size of this strange specimen. But the real surprise occurred when I bit into it. Confusion was the first emotion I felt. “This doesn’t taste anything like a peach,” I thought. It’s flavor was reminiscent of a peach, yet sweeter (sweeter than even candy). At the same time, I felt nourished and full of all the vitamins and minerals the earth had to offer. I was reminded of this experience the other night, at the South Pasadena Library.
Marcy and Nikiko Masumoto, organic farmers from Central California, visited the South Pasadena Library to read from their new book, The Perfect Peach: Recipes and Stories from the Masumoto Family Farm.
The name “Masumoto” entered the lexicon in 1987 when David Mas Masumoto, the patriarch of the family, wrote an emotional essay for the L.A. Times entitled, “Epitaph for a Peach”. In his essay, David confessed his plan to bulldoze the hundreds of Sun Crest peach trees on his farm because they weren’t garnering enough money. Things had changed since the day his father planted those trees. Taste and flavor no longer predicted a peach’s value. Instead, merchants preferred newer varieties which had little flavor, but could withstand longer time periods in storage. “This season we are seeing not only the death of a peach variety but also the continuing death of the family farmer; the gradual extinction of a breed and a livelihood,” he wrote in his essay.
But “Epitaph for a Peach” had an unexpected consequence. It won David attention and praise for his lyrical writing. People suddenly took an interest in the Masumoto family farm, and slowly a clientele was born. From the brink of extinction, the Sun Crest peach trees rose to be the crown jewel of the Masumoto family farm.
The popularity of the Masumoto family and their Sun Crest peaches was evident by the sizable crowd that gathered in front of the South Pasadena Library on Thursday evening. However, we weren’t only there to listen to recipes. In fact, to categorize The Perfect Peach as a mere cookbook would be doing it a great disservice. It is so much more than that. The fifty unique recipes in the book sit alongside the elegantly written essays of David, Marcy, and their daughter, Nikiko. These essays whisk readers into the history of the Masumoto family, letting them experience all the highs and lows along with them. In the end, the reader realizes that the Masumoto family grows more than fruit. In their own words, they “grow stories.”
If you buy only one book in the near future, it should be The Perfect Peach. Maybe you’ll be as inspired as I am to give more respect to the food we eat, and to the people who provide it.SHARE THIS