Produce: Pluots and donut peaches
In much of the northern hemisphere, peaches, plums, and other stone fruit - the kind of fruit that have a hard stone in the middle - are in season right now. (See my post on GenevaLunch for a Swiss-centric point of view.) I love these fruit so I basically gorge on them while I can, right now. There is nothing as sad as a rock-hard peach in February anyway.
Two kinds of stone fruit that are new to me are pluots and donut peaches. Pluots, pictured in the foreground in the photo, are a complex hybrid of apricots and plums. They are also marketed in a rather cutesy way as Brontosaurus Eggs or Dinosaur Eggs. They have smooth, fuzzless skins, and are bright red inside. To me, the color of the flesh is the most striking character of this fruit: it's really eye-catching in a fruit salad, especially if you think, like I do, that watermelon doesn't belong in a mixed fruit salad (it just overwhelms the other fruit flavors). The flavor is sort of elusive and delicate, and it's very juicy.
I am not quite sure of the origin of donut peaches (on the right of the photo). Pim has seen them being sold as Saturn peaches, but around here they are either sold as donut peaches or Chinese peaches (peches chinois). I saw them in New York also sold as donut peaches. I guess it all depends on who is marketing them! Whatever they are called, they are basically white peaches that have a flat, squished shape rather like a tire or a donut. They are cling-free peaches, so the stones slip out very easily, as does the skin. They are the perfect snacking size, and are very fragrant, delicate and peachy with barely any tartness.
In Italy, peaches and other delicate fruit are brought, unpeeled, to your table with a bowl of water. The diner washes off the fruit in the water, and peels them right there before popping them into their mouths. That's the only way to eat peaches for me - I'll leave the pies and cobblers to other people.