Occasionally my enthusiasm gets the better of me. Well, more than occasionally.
As an over-eager 20 year-old chef I thought I could do it all. Why have a fruit and vegetable supplier when I could head off to the markets myself at five in the morning? The produce would be fresher, more tailored to our needs, and we’d feel a greater sense of connection to our food.
My boss agreed that this was a good suggestion. After all, it wasn’t his sleep that would be interrupted, and he’d save 30% off his produce bills.
The markets were a steep learning curve. While I eventually got the hang of it, I was taken in by some of the shenanigans along the way. One summer morning I needed to track down a box of apricots. The local growers had sold out by the time I got there, so I headed off to see the distributors.
When I asked a friendly-looking fellow for a really great box of apricots he handed me a case of pale green, rock-hard fruit. I was a little confused, but I should have seen the wink he gave his friend. “Don’t worry”, he assured me, “the best apricots have to be ripened slowly in the fridge!”.
Well he’s the expert, I thought.
No surprise, when I returned the next week and explained that his box of apricots had failed to show the slightest readiness to ripen he roared with laughter. Good bloke, though. He gave me a couple of boxes of good, ripe fruit to make up for it.
There are a range of apricot varieties that will appear across late Spring and into Summer, but always choose deep-orange fruit with an obvious perfume.