Does one dare eat a peach? Prufrock's parpahrased question is, of course, loaded, but taken on a surface level, it's one worth answering. Even in summer, the time of peaches, as we're often told, grocery store specimens often turn to mush with one bite. The flavor may be cloyingly sweet and one-dimensional or fragrant to the point of funky, fermented.
But a good peach is a really good thing, a transcendent experience -- perfumed, juicy enough to make public eating an exhibitionist act, a dessert that requires only cream or maybe just a paper towel. To celebrate the good peaches out there, the Masumoto Family Farm of California's Central Valley has released, as of mid-June, a Deborah Madison-approved tome dedicated to the farm's famous heirloom crops.
Although ostensibly a cookbook about peach preparation, The Perfect Peach (Ten Speed Press, $22) also chronicles daily life on an organic farm that has thrived for four generations and includes the sort of sumptuous pictures you'd expect in a book dedicated to a fruit Caravaggio, Monet, and Renoir enjoyed painting.
Thankfully, the recipes are not limited to the put-'em-in-a-bowl Alice Waters School of Preparation -- however perfect that model may be when the peaches are perfect. Peaches barge into a Caprese salad. They stroll into a slow-cooked pork taco recipe. They hurl themselves across the grill, which is a great place for a peach to be.
It doesn't hurt that patriarch and co-author David Mas Masumoto has serious writerly cred, having written a number of well-received books, including Epitaph for a Peach and Harvest Son.
If only The Allman Brothers had been around to set ole Prufrock straight. If you're on the fence, pop over to South Pasadena this afternoon.