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My Grandfathers Apples
Round and polished Pink Lady, Braeburn, Gala apples and something labelled Cox, which doesn't taste very Cox-like to me, look very attractive on the supermarket shelf. But they don't evoke the same unalloyed pleasure I remember when eating windfalls with my grandfather in his garden. There were many different sorts, and we used to compare their taste. He would cut out the bits the wasps had eaten with an old penknife (wasps select the sweetest and ripest fruit he told me). I don't remember the names of the varieties but I do remember the sensation and every now and then when I eat gardengrown fruit or something bought from a market in France, once even from a fair outside Boston Mass, I get the same frisson of pleasure.
Not enough people have gardens with mature old-fashioned apples and all I guess have benefited from the easy availability of much fruit, nicely packaged, usually without obvious fault, but too often missing the vital ingredient, real flavour, that I used to find in my grandparents' apples and plums. My grandmother would marvel at the little packet you can buy of quince paté. She spent hours making jelly and jam from an old gnarled quince tree for the family to scoff.
A most exciting development in recent years for wine drinkers is the rediscovery of native grape varieties, other than the ubiquitous cabernet, merlot, chardonnay and sauvignon. There is a real renaissance of local grapes in Europe. Witness the wonderful flavoury whites now coming out of Spain, Portugal, Italy, Hungary and Greece. They are being made by people who take seriously grapes well adapted to local conditions but which had been marginalised and overlooked in the onward march of a few standardised names. The Wine Society is here to help you rediscover them. How about godello from Galicia (Ref N-SP6451, £9.25), falaghina from Campania ( ref N-IT14391, £6.95), moschofilero from Mantinea (ref N-GR371, £10.95), hárslevelu from Hungary (ref N-HU581, £7.50). And then there are the reds… susumaniello from Puglia (ref N-IT14301, £9.95) the list is long and intriguing.