August: National Peach Month
By Marcella Escarfuller
Click aqui para español- >Agosto: Mes Nacional del Melocotón
Let’s talk about peaches. Yes, it’s true they’re delicious. But did you know that they hold a rich and complicated history that dates back thousands of years? Peach consumption is so enjoyable to us humans that, in 1982, President Ronald Regan felt the need to dub August “National Peach Month.” And don’t forget to mark your calendars – August 22nd is National Eat a Peach Day! Here, a little history before you take that first juicy bite:
Peaches originated from northwestern China, where there are still wild varieties found in its forests. According to anthropological studies, peaches and their flowers have held cultural significance in China dating as far back as the first millennium BCE. In Chinese culture, peaches are a symbol of good health and immortality, and their blossoms are often carried by brides on their wedding day. Fast-forward a couple thousand years and the peach was traveling the Silk Road to Persia (modern day Iran), where it was discovered, disseminated and made popular by Alexander the Great. The peach then traveled from Persia to Europe, where they were prized by Romans so much that they were sold for the modern equivalent of $4.50 each.
The fruit’s botanical name, Prunus persica comes from where Europeans believed the fruit to have originated, persica being the Latin word for Persia. The common name then stemmed from there – peche in Middle English and pesche in Old French. The Spanish word for peach, melocotón, comes from the Latin malum cotonium, literally “apple of Cydonia” (Cydonia being an ancient city-state on the Greek island of Crete).
Once the traveling fruit found its way to Europe, Europeans were so fascinated by the peach that they brought it with them to the New World. Spain introduced the peach to what is now Mexico, Florida and South America; England brought it to the colonies (it’s said that Thomas Jefferson had a private grove at Monticello); and France introduced the fruit to Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. Peaches were considered a luxurious indulgence and were only consumed by the privileged few in the United States until commercial production began in the 19th century.
Nothing beats the smell of fresh, ripe peaches in summer. Lucky for us, these little indulgent luxuries are always at our fingertips this time of year. That flowery, mouth-watering aroma inevitably leads to that involuntary deep-breathing, eye-closing, out-of-body experience. Melt-in-your-mouth dishes like peach cobbler seem to call your name on the summer breeze. Okay – let’s stop talking about peaches and go eat some!
Here, some local restaurants with amazing summer peach items on the menu: Poached Peaches & Honeysuckle at restaurant R’Evolution; Roast duckling served with ginger-peach sauce at Upperline restaurant; Peach cobbler with bourbon ice cream at Willa Jean; Black truffle croque monsieur with georgia peach syrup at Commander’s Palace.