Apples are the memory fruit. I say this because I believe they conjure up specific memories for all who eat them.
For me I think of planting apple seeds in the backyard of a childhood home in Texas. You may think the story of this trite rite—I was six—ends with me looking over the horizon at a fully mature apple tree, some decades later. No. My family lived in this home, with this particular backyard, only two years before we moved to the next state over…and then another state, and so on, as military upbringings require.
When I bite into apples now, I do wonder about that tree. Does it exist, or did the next owner deem my treasure a weed and rip it out? Did it grow a few feet tall, only to cower to its death when a tornado tore through the Texas town? I stopped by the house once on a Southern state road trip, but I couldn’t bear to tip-toe around the property to catch a glimpse of what might be.
There are other apple memories, like eating a sliced, salt-sprinkled apple with my mother as an after-school snack. But for all the warm ‘n fuzzies to be had over apples (American apple pie, Johnny Appleseed, Gwyneth Paltrow’s spawn), a Google search of the word produces 502 million results, the first seven pages of which have nothing to do with real apples. You guessed it. Apple, as in Macintosh, now dominates our social, lexical consciousness.
And that’s a funny thing because apples are such vessels of life and energy. According to treehugger.com, it takes 18 gallons of water to grow one apple. Sometimes I just grab an apple, rather than a glass of water, when I’m thirsty because it's mostly water and air. As former captain of my high school’s physics team, I maintain that’s the real reason they float in water. This is also the logic behind “eating your water,” or hydrating via fruits and vegetables, the impetus of “The Water Secret: The Cellular Breakthrough to Look and Feel 10 Years Younger” by Howard Murad, M.D. (http://www.amazon.com/Water-Secret-Cellular-Breakthrough-Younger/dp/0470554703/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1293911407&sr=8-1).
But in fact, the nutritional value of a conventionally eaten apple (no core, no seeds, worse if peeled) is pretty meager: a meager one percent of your daily value of Vitamin A, Calcium, Iron. A little more Magnesium (two percent), a beefy three percent of Vitamin B6. A not-so-bad 10 percent Vitamin C and three grams of Fiber.
Meanwhile the seeds, ever-rumored to be toxic, are actually the most nutritious part, packed with essential iodine. Totally edible, just don’t eat a barrel of them. Toxicity, my friend, is in the dose. Enough bananas will kill you, too.
An added bonus? There’s something deviant about eating apple seeds, something raw and dirty. And dirty is O.K. Nowadays pesticide finds itself in 98 percent of apples (http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=9590713). Those super-shiny apples that glisten under supermarket fluorescence are suspect. I say the dirtier the apple, the better. You’ll notice straight up “organic” apples don’t look so fetching. But like a plain gal or chap begging to be bedded, they’ll rock your world. Plus, you won’t infect your body.
Of course even the purest of apples can end up a bad apple, or “mealy,” a literal breakdown of its moral fibers. And an over-exposed apple turns brown, unless you shock it into submission with some acid, like lemon juice.
We’re far off from National Apple Month (October), but why not make apples the apple of your eye more frequently? I adore no-nonsense fruits that you can fully consume without the help of a knife or peeler. Skin, seeds, flesh and all.
And, should you have too few apple-sized memories to boast of, this recipe by Emeril Lagasse will cozy up even the coldest of souls: Olga’s Giant Apple Crisp (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/olgas-giant-apple-crisp-recipe/index.html).
I don’t have an Aunt Olga, but every bite of this crisp convinces me I do indeed. I especially appreciate the sassy, brassy teaspoon of salt this recipe calls for. Not only does it egg on the sugar in the dessert, but it reminds me of those juicy apple slices of my youth, topped with table salt, glistening in the horizon, where grows an apple tree in Texas.