Sometimes you don’t realize it when it happens. You don’t know that the bite you just took was one of the best – that you just enjoyed a perfect bite.

necatrine

Sometimes you are lucky enough to know that the bite you have just taken was a perfect bite, that all factors have collided to treat you to a flawless tasting experience. I knew it when I bit into the perfectly ripe nectarine I plucked from my father-in-law’s garden in Greece. I stopped immediately to take the above photo and capture the moment visually with the hope that future viewing will help me remember the other sensations.

Peaches and nectarines have long been my favorite fruit, when they are at their prime. Unfortunately, there is only a small window of time when they are just so and when you get a bad one, it is notably disappointing. When I first see the mounds of fuzzy peaches in the stores, I must use all my power to hold back and remind myself of the countless false starts in past years that have disappointed with tasteless, overly hard fruit. And, at the height of the season, when we are just turning over the top of the mountain towards decline, I must except that last, wonderful peach for what it is before I get greedy and end up with a pithy, mealy mess.

When we arrived in Corfu for vacation two weeks ago, the small tree in the front yard was spotted with large, red nectarines. It is a new tree that my in-laws planted last year and it was the first time I had ever seen a peach or nectarine tree bearing fruit. I was warned to wait as the fruit was not quite ready for consumption.

necatarine-tree

Each morning, I slipped on my flip flops and walked out in my sleepwear to feel the ripening beauties. About three days into our vacation, the hot, Greek sun had performed its magic and a few of the fruits were soft to the touch. Our first sampling revealed white flesh inside with swirls of hot pink. The flavor was as sweet as candy and the juice dripped down our chins. Within days, nearly all the nectarines began ripening at once and I began to panic that we couldn’t eat them fast enough!

In order to make the most of my first tree-plucked nectarines, I vowed to include them at every meal. We diced them over our thick Greek yogurt for breakfast, letting their juice drip off the knife into the bowl as we cut. I ate them after lunch and a few times just walked to the tree to grab a snack.

After about a week, a few fruits had fallen to the ground where worms and bugs invade making the prize inedible. My mother-in-law decided that the time had come to clean off the tree and make nectarine jam. I grabbed one last, soft nectarine from the tree and standing on the porch bathed in golden Greek afternoon light, I took the bite you see above.

All food experiences are touched by factors other than taste. The setting, the company, the occasion, the weather, the rarity of the food, the relationships with the people involved in the food… so many things set the scene. In the case of this perfect bite, I had relaxed into a much needed family vacation on an island so different from my normal habitat. I am always deeply satisfied by harvesting my own food but have never been so fortunate to be near a tree bearing my favorite fruit. The few days of anticipation while the nectarines ripened, the beautiful color of the flesh, the fact that each one was slightly warm from the sun when I ate it, the glorious sweet aroma, and due to the impending jam making, I knew that it was my last nectarine from the tree – all these things converged, heightening my senses and appreciation, creating a perfect bite.

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6 Responses to “The Perfect Bite”

  1. Madeline Says:

    Agreed. Setting has EVERYthing to do with it. Especially if it correlates with the locale of the food. Beautiful post, jealousy is about to ensue…

  2. Felicia Says:

    So tickled that I discovered your blog!! I adore the photography, and can’t wait to start playing with the recipes. Warmly, Felicia

  3. Melissa Says:

    A perfectly ripe nectarine is the most heavenly thing! I am always worried that the nectarines I am buying will taste hard or mealy (waste of $$ cause no one will eat them), but I find that if I buy them at the farmers market they are always perfect and I can usually taste before I buy.
    Nectarine jam sounds heavenly. Never made jam with nectarines or peaches before. If I find some at a good price I am going to try it!

  4. Cesar Perez - forex Says:

    Hi,

    In my opinion, the environment is critical element for produce good bites. Thanks for this complete post, is very educational.

  5. stresscake Says:

    I had a similar moment with a white “donut” nectarine at a small market in SW France. Sweet Jesus, it was amazing. The woman I bought them from sold exactly two things – white donut peaches and white donut nectarines – out of two enormous baskets. She was going on and on about them, of which I only understood about 2% of what she was saying, so of course I had to stop and sample. My eyes about popped out of my head. She leans over, winks and in English says “Good, non?” I almost hugged her.

  6. Julie Says:

    There is nothing like eating a perfectly ripe stone fruit in the garden where you picked it. I’ve been getting a lot of great peaches lately, mostly grown locally in Jersey, but nothing has topped the ones I enjoyed last year directly from my cousin’s garden in California. Thanks for the post!

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