Well, the bad news is that Apple Enthusiast Magazine is probably going out of business. I got an email from Igor in mid November explaining that the rising costs of gas had had a domino effect on shipping fees and as a result, the books were getting pretty tight. Igor asked if I would consider contributing my final article of the season for free, but I said no way. After all, what’s the point of writing if you’re not getting paid?
I’ve decided, however, to post my rough draft and notes of the final article, if only to keep some record of the final apples of the season (hopefully, then, some other magazine will pay me to write an apple column next year and I can just plagiarize my own stuff).
In the meantime, I’m finalizing another short story (it’s been a while, eh?), which I hope to have posted soon. A few days ago, we had a snow day, so I really should have gotten it done then, but instead, I searched Google Snow Day (seen below) and discovered that I wanted to learn the Rubik’s Cube. Again.
One thing’s for certain about this week’s apples: they have some great names. In fact, they’ve inspired me to try my hand at a children’s story, which I envision being illustrated with some little apple-faced people and which I started writing this morning.
One day, Tolman Sweet and Stayman Winesap were walking together downtown when they came upon their friend Hubbardston Nonesuch, the local chimney sweep. Hubbardston seemed quite down on his luck, and when they asked him what was the matter, he sobbed and said, “It’s Autumn Berry. First she broke my heart and now she’s going around telling everyone that when I cleaned her chimney, I got soot everywhere.”
I paused there in my story, wondering if adults reading the bedtime tale to their children might take the chimney cleaning the wrong way. I don’t think I’m cut out for children’s stories.
But I can tell you something about the apples I’d choose as my main characters.
First, there’s the protagonist, little Hubbardston Nonesuch. He’s a sweet little boy with a positive attitude . . . okay, I’m going to stop now. The Hubbardston is indeed a sweet apple, with a juicy, bright flavor. I think it tastes like a King David without the cherry taste.
- Tolman Sweets are little, yellow, and freaky sweet.
- Black Gilliflower: just okay.
- Oxheart Pippin: fairly neutral, like a juicy store-bought apple, but good enough.
- Autumn Berry: yuck. Possibly the worst apple of the season. I don’t know, maybe the Autumn Berry is like the cilantro of the apple world — terrible on its own, but good in that it brings out other flavors. Except that the problem with that analogy is that some people really like cilantro on its own. I can’t imagine anyone liking Autumn Berries.
- Tydeman’s Late Orange: looks like a Cox’s Orange Pippin, but nowhere near as good. The flavor is pretty nice — tangy, a little citric, juicy — but it’s also a little mealy.
- Stayman Winesap: a solid eating apple. Mac-like, but firmer. Definitely a keeper.
- Pink Lady: starts pretty neutral and juicy, but has a really pleasant tartness that hits you later. It’s been so long since I’ve had a grocery store pink lady that I’m not sure how they compare. Perhaps the subtle aftertaste is missing from the grocery varieties. Not sure. But the Pink Lady is probably my pick of the week.
- Yellow Bellflower: sweet, yellow, pretty nice flavor. Need to try another one.
- Black Twig: just okay. A little too nutty or tannin-y.
- Willow Twig: Great apple! Pretty firm; fairly neutral in the sweet-sour spectrum, but leaning toward wild tartness.
- Hudson’s Gem: tastes like a pear. Good stuff.
- So, the picks: Willow Twig, Pink Lady, Hubbardston Nonesuch.