Wednesday, January 17, 2018
The best apple I have ever eaten
Or the best apple I ever ate.
Both sentences are legitimate and perfectly viable English grammar. The only arguable part is the word "ever". For it may not be "ever". We need to cut back on "ever". (Just like we need to cut back on "beyond".) Only if I died tomorrow would the sentence be true with "ever", for tomorrow - and tomorrow, and tomorrow - I could, and hope to, eat an apple yet that will take the title "best".
For there are many apples, and many apples I have not eaten or ate (I love how you southerners say ate instead of eaten - it's perfectly excellent grammar). I'm just a newbie when it comes to knowing the tastes and textures of the vast array of apples. And further, apples do not differ from each other in the way that - say, mangoes differ from each other. Certain apples can take on such a distinctive profile as to induce this commonly known phrase among pomologists: "If you were to eat this blindfolded, you would not know that it was an apple." For this reason you would not be far amiss to say that apples are the most universal fruit.
The two apples in the picture are not, and yet are, the apple I am referring to when I say, "The best apple I have ever eaten." For those are apples from the tree from which I had the best apple I ever ate, but neither of them are the apple. That picture was taken 2015. The best apple I ever ate was one from the same tree only last year, 2017.
I do not know the variety of this apple tree. It grows by a horse trail. The two apples in my hand were picked, and just under ripe. No matter. When they are not quite peaked in ripeness they are intense. Have one and your mouth goes raw. Have two and your stomach lining is in a questionable state. Of course I ate both, one after the other, for they are complex - intensely sweet and intensely...sour? I don't like using the word sour in this case, because sour too often refers to something that has spoiled, like sour milk. Anyways, the rawnesss of both mouth and stomach didn't last long - it's no matter to me. Many wimps today with overly domesticated palettes would not be able to get past one bite.
But when they ripen to full peak - now that is what I'm getting at here. The best apple I ever ate had fallen from the tree. It was lying by the trail in dusty grass, just a few feet away from a pile of horse dung. I wiped the dust off the best I could on my shirt and took a bite.
I wouldn't know how to describe it. Champagne? But I'm not a fan of champagne. I don't know. It was amazing. Just in case you might be thinking, "Ah, Paul, the apple was starting to ferment" - no, it wasn't. It was perfectly ripe, nowhere near overripe. The burst of sharp intensity, the warmth of it - not just the warmth of the apple basking in the sun, but the warmth of the flavour. It was a taste that completely filled the mouth, exuberant, superabundant.
The knowledge that we have of apples according to what we get from the supermarkets is impoverished, to say the least.
Just like our notion of heaven.