Getting Fresh: Apricot Angst
I want to like the apricot. I really do. She's so darned pretty, with her smooth skin, all dolled up in a shade of orange that's easy on the eyes.
Every year at this time, when locally-grown apricots show up at market, I gaze longingly at these beauty queens like a star-crossed lover with a selective memory. Inevitably, I buy a handful and take home my precious cargo, for yet another tasting, hopeful that this time's a charm.
I'm sorry to report that this year's tasting was just like all the previous years, revealing nothing more than what I already knew -- the apricot is nondescript on a good day and mealy on a bad one. Blech is about all that comes to mind.
For counsel (and perhaps commiseration), I work my way through my cookbook collection, and the ideas for cooking apricots seem primarily limited to marinades and chutneys. No thanks. Surely I could use apricots in my cobblers and beloved buckle, but why screw up a good thing when berries and peaches do such a bang up job?
And then I turn to Nigel Slater's "Kitchen Diaries." For his June 18 entry, which is a menu for "dinner for six in the garden," he includes details for "warm apricots with orange blossom and pistachio."
I perk up, particularly when I see a seductive photo on the facing page. But apparently, Slater faces a similar plight. His first sentence after the subhead: "Apricots disappoint." (Aha! Maybe I'm not so crazy after all.)
As a solution, Slater suggests roasting halved apricots with a drizzle of honey and some orange blossom water, for perfume. I do as I'm told and wait 30-ish minutes. I remove the dish, unseal the foil covering and dip my spoon in to sample the juices.
Once again, I'm not feeling the love. The flavor was more sour than sweet, which I suspect is from the orange blossom water, which means, even when roasted, these hot mamas got no flavor on their own!
Maybe that's why everyone eats them dried.
Sigh. I'm moving on... unless you've got a recipe to change my ways. Sound off in the comments area below.
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