Peach fuzz makes me squirm.
I love the soft, bright flavor of a good late summer peach, as long as there is no skin involved. Yes, I know, a peach’s identity depends largely on the fuzziness of its skin, and I love that fuzz, as long as it’s nowhere near my mouth.
But the moment said fuzz touches my tongue – nay, the moment before – I go through a physical (and perhaps psychological) transformation. Goosebumps shoot out of my skin, my tongue curls back on itself, my whole face tightens, and I can feel all the little pores in my scalp announce their presence.
It’s always been that way; I just can’t connect anything dry with my tongue. Which is why without fail, many of my friends lick a napkin the second we sit down to dinner.
With my family, it goes something like this: I walk into a room, and everyone is already sitting down. My brother and sister and husband look at each other. Someone smirks. I sit, and the three of them bring their napkins up to their tongues in unison and there is uproarious laughter. They think this is funny.
Why is this funny? You torture me. Would you like it if I carried a blackboard around with me in my purse, for the sole purpose of scraping my nails down it every time we sit down to dinner? Or perhaps you’d like splinters in your cuticles? I’d try to start a movement to ban napkins from all eating establishments, but I doubt that would go over so well.
But I ask, of all those who have made me suffer so: Try a chokecherry the next time you find one at a farmers’ market (I’ve seen them around Seattle recently). Roll that bitter dryness around in your mouth a little, and know that that’s exactly what my body goes through when I even think of daring to eat a peach with the skin on. It’s quite uncomfortable.
Or, skip the work and hand me a nectarine. There’s nothing I don’t like about nectarines.
I started to play a little game called What Jess Likes Best, On Toast. But when the scent of bacon started eddying through the house, flowing from room to room and collecting in almost-visible swirls in any available corner, it occurred to me that it would be blasphemy to dilute a combination like nectarines, goat cheese, and bacon with so much as the smallest slice of carbohydrate.
I had a personal chef client for years on Cape Cod who insisted hors d’oeuvres for her parties be absolutely no bigger than a quarter. Nickel-sized was ideal.
This is the opposite kind of appetizer. You can either eat it one giant, embarrassing bite, and hope the bright, citric juice of the nectarine doesn’t make you drool so much that you spit down the front of your shirt or onto someone else, or you can eat it with two hands, over a sink, if handy. You’ll probably have to put your drink down.
But yes, it’s worth it.
Recipe 260 of 365: Nectarine Skewers
Cut a ripe nectarine into eight equal slices. Break eight little sprigs off a bunch of parsley, and cut a generous 2 ounces of goat cheese (half a little log) into 8 equal pieces. Brown eight pieces of great thick-cut bacon (better make it 10, or even 12, in case some break, or in case you get hungry) in two batches over medium heat until well cooked but not so cooked as to be crispy. Drain the bacon briefly on paper towels. Then, while the bacon is still warm and pliable (this is why it’s best to do two batches), place a piece of bacon on a clean work surface. Place a nectarine slice perpendicular to the bacon, add some goat cheese and a sprig of parsley, and wrap the bacon around the bundle, securing it with a short wooden skewer. Eat warm or at room temperature.
(I haven’t tried it, but microwaving the bacon might be the best way to achieve even doneness while maintaining the meat’s flexibility.)