If there’s anything worse than watching a favorite fruit slowly passing its prime and going out of season, disappearing from store shelves until next year, it would be the way that some markets completely ignore seasons altogether. You would think that harvest times would be an important factor in what to stock a market with, but apparently this is of little interest to many mega-marts, supplying an endless stream of the same fruits and veggies all year round. Thanks to a consumerist culture that gets what it wants, when it wants, I turned 16 years old before I figured out that apples don’t actually grow all year round! But why not, if they can always be found shiny and polished, ready to be purchased just a short 10 minute drive away? Really, it makes me sick to think of how long those edible time bombs have been sitting in cold storage, just waiting to take the place of fresher specimens. At this point, the humble apple that you might find waiting patiently in the store could be almost a year old, picked in the cool, crisp autumn of 2006. So far from the proper season, I usually avoid such dubious suspects… But sometimes, I can’t help what ends up in my basket by the time I reach the check-out line.
Apple of my eye, so red and round, could you blame me for coveting that lustrous red skin? There’s no excuse for this impulse buy and I know it, surrounded as I am by those lovely soft apricots and blackberries ripe for the picking, but, oh, how I wanted it! In autumn months I’ve been known to consume as many as three apples per day, so to show this much restraint this late in the year is quite remarkable.
Settling in to enjoy my apple, the first matter of business was to cut away a few sweet slices to dunk in a healthy dollop of peanut butter. Slicing horizontally, immediately I could sense that it felt wrong somehow, as if it were hollow inside. It was pure craziness to think such an absurd thought, but the further in my knife dove, the less resistance it met. Strange indeed, I proceeded to pop the top off, and discovered the most heart-stopping scene inside. Knife clattering to the floor, I stood back so quickly that my chair toppled over awkwardly like an unbalanced drunkard, and in the midst of all this racket…
…Sat the longest, pinkest, wriggliest uninvited guest that had ever joined me at the table. Black, beady eyes poking this way and that, examining this bright new space, he appeared to be just as startled as I. As he began emerging from the apple slowly, I recoiled further in horror, the childhood fear of anything creepy or crawly returning in the blink of an eye.
While I could have easily expected mealy, bland, or even rotten innards, I would have never suspected that I had purchased nothing more than the facade of an apple, only good for housing a worm!
That will certainly teach me not to buy out of season ever again!