Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Beautiful Uglies

About this time last year, I bought some gnarled, frightening-looking apples from Waldingfield Farm's stand at the Wooster Square farmer's market. They looked disgusting. Patrick, the farmer manning the stand, implored me to see beyond the cosmetic. The apples looked that way because the farm is organic and uses no pesticides. I.e. this is what all apples used to look like. The perfect globe with unblemished skin is a product of science, not nature.

These apples, he added, were Baldwins, which used to be the number one cider apple in New England. But because they bear only once every two years, they fell out of favor. After a killing winter in the early 1920s, most farms didn't replant the trees, he explained.

Patrick said that Waldingfield, which is primarily a vegetable farm, still had some old, neglected trees planted in the late 1920s. The farm started taking care of them and voila, they began producing the fruit that lay before me in all its blemished glory.

How could I resist such a great story? I bought the apples. It took a little guts to bite into one. I felt a bit like the man who ate the first oyster. But Patrick was right. They were some of the best apples I've ever eaten. I made a pie with some, which turned out beautifully.

I've been waiting ever since for the Baldwins to reappear. Last Saturday, Patrick finally had them and I made my purchase. The last ones are in my lunch today.

Hooray for organic Baldwins! Buy 'em if you can!

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