How do you like them apples?

Fall has fallen here in the northern hemisphere, and in my neck of the woods, this means it’s apple-picking season.¹ Which seems like as good a reason as any to pick apples for this week’s Themed Things Thursday.

  1. Apple of my eye. An expression meaning one who is most dear to the speaker.
  2. cortland_apple.jpg

  3. The Big Apple. A nickname for New York City. One source identifies its origins from usage by African-American stablehands at a New Orleans racetrack in the 1920s. (Wikipedia says it was first used by touring jazz musicians in the 1930s.)
  4. Snow White. A fairytale in which a girl falls asleep after eating a poisoned apple.
  5. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. A saying suggesting that eating apples is good for the health. I found a bit on origins of the saying:

    From “Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings” by Gregory Y. Titelman (1996): “An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Eating fruit regularly keeps one healthy. First found as a Welsh folk proverb (1866)” ‘Eat an apple on going to bed,/ And you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.’ First attested in the United States in 1913…”

  6. Adam’s apple. A bump on the front of the neck, tending to me more prominent in adult males, from the “forward protrusion of the thyroid cartilage.” Likely nicknamed based on the Biblical story of Eve giving an apple to Adam.
  7. archibald_apple_tree.jpg

  8. Newton’s apple. A falling apple (which may or not have bonked him on the head) may or may not have contributed to Newton’s theory of universal gravitation.
  9. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. An expression meaning that the offspring will often turn out like the parent(s).
  10. Johnny Appleseed. An American folk hero famed for planting lots of apple trees.
  11. Apple Inc.² A company. Makes computers. One line of which is named after a type of apple, the macintosh. Has a logo shaped like an apple_rainbow.jpgapple_clear.jpg
    apple with a bite out of it. Has a variety of iProducts: iMac, iPod, iPhone, iCup
  12. An apple for the teacher. An apple is known in the US as traditional gift to give to a teacher. (The fruit, not the computers. But I bet most teachers would appreciate getting an Apple.) Has (probably) led to apples showing up on greeting cards and coffee mugs as symbols of the teaching profession (along with rulers, blackboards and squid). (No wait, scratch that last one. I was just checking to see if you were still reading this.)


¹ We live in an area with many apple orchards, and Phoebe even got to go apple picking with her daycare last week. I hope we’ll get to go together some time this year. Late October last year, we went to a nearby orchard that grows over 50 varieties of apples. Pick-your-own season was past, so our experience was less about apple picking than apple choosing. But it was still fun. And the apples were yummy.

² I read that Apple Inc. officially dropped “Computers” from its name earlier this year. I hadn’t even noticed.


throwing some tomatoes

tomato_pd.jpgIt shouldn’t come as much surprise that I have tomatoes on the brain. After getting 10 pounds of tomatoes from the CSA this week, on top of the several pounds I left from last week’s 10 pound haul, I have tomatoes in lots of places. I’ve been making lots of things with tomatoes: tomato salad with mozzarella and basil, tomato sandwiches, roasted tomatoes with garlic…It seems only fitting that I should also make me a tomato list. So, this week’s Themed Things Thursday is all about tomatoes.

  1. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg. A novel featuring a restaurant that serves fried green tomatoes. (I expect they served other things, too. But the title doesn’t include the full menu.)
  2. Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) A movie based on the Fannie Flagg novel.
  3. The Tomato Collection. An album by Nina Simone. It actually seems to have nothing to do with tomatoes beyond the title, but I love Nina.
  4. The campfire song “Lord Jim”

    I know an old bloke and his name is Lord Jim,
    And he had a wife who threw tomatoes at him,
    Now tomatoes are juicy, don’t injure the skin,
    But these ones they did, they was inside a tin.

  5. Let’s call the whole thing off.” The song written by George and Ira Gershwin. Sometimes known as “the tomato song,” due to this bit:

    You like potato and I like potahto,
    You like tomato and I like tomahto;
    Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto!
    Let’s call the whole thing off!

    Tomato, tomahto…or, as the Wikipedia tomato entry has, with somewhat dubious IPA:¹

    You like /təˈmeɪtoʊ/ and I like /təˈmɑːtəʊ/

  6. Don’t like tomatoes? Perhaps this website is for you: tomatoes are evil. You can purchase anti-tomato propaganda and play anti-tomato games.
  7. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978). The cult classic movie. A comedy sci-fi horror thriller romance. Oh, wait. Probably not the romance. Spawned (or sowed?) several tomatobased sequels, including one called Killer Tomatoes Eat France!² The second movie, or the first sequel, starred, of all people, George Clooney.
  8. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. (1990) A short-lived cartoon TV show featuring the voice of John Astin. (John Astin was also in all 3 movie sequels.)
  9. I think the best way to end this list is to give you this: the theme song to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!


¹ I’d be inclined to use square bracket here, rather than slanty ones, for a start, as the slanty ones suggest a phonemic (rather than narrow phonetic) transcription., and the 2 variants of /o/ (əʊ and oʊ) are not phonemic. At the same time, the onset of that last syllabe is transcribed with a t, which seems unlikely in American English. I’d go for a flap. And I produce strong aspiration on the first /t/.
You know, you say /təˈmeɪtoʊ/, I say [tʰəˈmeɪɾəʊ].

²By the way, that exclamation point is part of the title. As someone who rations out my exclamation points, I feel compelled to insert this disclaimer.

magical mystery fruit

Roll out for the mystery fruit. Step right this way.

Yesterday, John, Phoebe and I took the train into town to attend the Cambridge Carnival International, a primarily Caribbean street festival in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


We got there a bit on the early side, so things were pretty tame when we arrived. Things got quite a bit more crowded as the afternoon progressed, though. There were lots of international food vendors there, which was exciting. (The vegetarian options were somewhat limited though. We ended up getting some so-so Indian food that had probably been cooked the day before.) We mostly spent the time at the festival wandering back and forth, taking some pictures, listening to the music, and looking at people. There were lots of non-food vendors, too, mostly in stalls. I went wild and got a tattoo. Well, I went very moderately wild and got a temporary tatoo. (Anyone want to guess what image I chose?)

At some point, we wandered past a woman selling mangos and some other kind of fruit, sitting on a chair in the road median with a stack of boxes. There was a little ring of people around her, buying this green fruit. I couldn’t identify the fruit as we walked past. Later, I noticed people walking around eating this fruit, and saw some green rinds on the ground (scattered among the bits of sugar cane that people had gnawed on). Towards the end of our festivating, I walked past this fruit woman again. There was no crowd this time. I watched her crack one of the green fruits open in her fingers, and pop the fleshy fruit insides of it into her mouth. She then rolled it around in her mouth a bit. I was intrigued.

“How much are they?” I asked, avoiding trying to name them. I didn’t ask their name. In part to seem as if I knew what I was doing, in part to keep the mystery. I bought a baggie of them for 3 dollars.

I’ve eaten a couple of them, still without knowing what they are. They are sweet with a slight bitterness to them, that reminds me a bit of underripe bananas, and which left my tongue feeling slightly furry and numb. The fruit is almost all pit, explaining why the woman rolled it in her mouth. It seems you sort of suck on the pit, and chew the fruit off. They are about the size of a walnut, with a rind that comes off easily, and that resembles a lime peel.

These are photos of some fruit I bought yesterday. I have no idea what it is. It is definitely tropical. Probably Caribbean. Can anyone name that fruit?

In related news, today was farm day for me once more. Meaning I headed back to the farm for my week’s CSA share. Like last week, the share included 10 pounds of tomatoes. I have been working on last week’s tomato haul, but still have quite a few left. (By the way, my photo of last week was of only a portion of the tomatoes.)

Here are my remaining tomatoes of last week, probably about 4 pounds. (Note: the small person standing in the photo is not a tomato.):


Below is this week’s full 10 pounds. (Not including last weeks remnants.) They include a lot more yellow and orange varieties. (Notice the large, orange brain-shaped one on the right?)


I also got some husk tomatoes, which were an exciting discovery for me. They were pick-your-own, and I opted out of them last week due to Phoebe’s mood. But I went solo today, and decided to pick-my-own. We could gather a pint total of cherry tomatoes and husk tomatoes. The farm apprentice gave me the low down on the picking before I headed to the fields, including the details the husk tomatoes are ripe when the husks are brown, and the ones that have already fallen on the ground are often the best.

I decided to try the husk tomatoes first, as I was curious. (I’m always game to try a new fruit or veggie.) I tasted the first one I found, and wow! Them’s good eatin’! I decided to gather my whole pint of husk tomatoes. These are tiny little things, though they seem to grow in other sizes, too. Each is the size of a large blueberry, and is wrapped in a little balloon of husk. They taste very sweet, more like a berry or a currant than a tomato. (Tomatoes are berries, after all.) These may also be the same fruit that is known as a ground cherry, and are akin to tomatillos.


These are the husk tomatoes I picked. I put in an averaged sized regular red tomato for scale. (Note that the plate in this photo is a smaller plate than the ones used in the big tomato photos above.)

berry me deep

jamberry.jpgOur blueberry-picking excursion of the weekend has me thinking about berries. Mmmmmm, berries.

I love berries. And so do lots of other people. Berries show up in muffins, pies and other baked goods. Also in lots of books and folktales, and few songs. Plus a few other places you wouldn’t expect to find berries. Which is how berries ended up in my list of themed things.

  • Jamberry, by Bruce Degen
    A book of a bear, a boy, and many, many berries. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. And silly rhymes.

    Quickberry, quackberry
    Pick me a blackberrry

  • Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey
    A picturebook of berry-picking and bears, and mistaken identity.
  • Blueberry. The name of my stuffed bear I got from my mother for my fourth birthday. I still have him.
  • Violet, the gum-chewer of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the book by Roald Dahl, and the movies based on it) turns into a giant blueberry.
  • blueberry_crop.jpg

  • Firefly & Buffy. Maybe Joss Whedon has a thing for strawberries. In Firefly, strawberries are a luxury item and valued commodity. A box of strawberries is what Book uses to convince Kaylee to take him on as a passenger in the pilot episode. In the Buffy Season 6 episode “Wrecked,” the creepy Rack tells Willow “you taste like strawberries.” (I also feel like there was a scene in the bronze at some point where some random dancing person gets briefly turned into a giant strawberry. Am I imagining this?)
  • strawberrywatercolor.jpg

  • Strawberry Shortcake. The doll. The cartoons. The empire. I still remember the commercials for the doll from when I was little. I can still hear the song, with it’s mockable swellness:

    Strawberry Shortcake
    My she’s looking swell!
    Cute little doll
    With a strawberry smell.

  • The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear, by Don Wood Another picture book. About a mouse. And a strawberry. Also some mention of a bear.
  • The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher, by Molly Bang. I don’t actually know this berry-oriented book, though it won a Caldecott Honor medal. I liked the author’s story of struggling to get it published.
  • The Strawberry Legend. A Cherokee Legend where a woman forgets her anger and remembers her love as she eats some berries. (There’s at least one book version, too.)
  • The Blackberry Bush, a folktale in the book Stories to Tell to Children by Sara Cone Bryant.
  • Blackberry . One of the rabbits from Watership Down, by Douglas Adams.
  • BlackBerry. An electronic device. John had one for a couple of years. He would sometimes throw it when he got email because it would irritate him so much with its onslaught of interruptions.
  • Blowing a raspberry. Okay, it has nothing to do with berries. It’s when you make a sort of continous spitting noise by sticking your tongue between your lips and blowing, or by blowing through loosely closed lips. I have no idea why it’s called a raspberry.
  • Knott’s Berry Farm. Not actually a farm, and not so much berry-ish. It’s a large amusement park. But the founder did sell berries.
  • Frankenberry. A cereal. Berry-flavored. Also a cartoon character from the cereal box and commercials. Has a bit of a cult following. (There also seem to be some other meanings to Frankenberry, as seen on Urban Dictionary, but they seem pretty lame to me.)
  • Finally, here are a few berry songs that I picked for you:
    • Raspberry Beret, Prince (Okay, not really about raspberries)
    • Blueberry Hill, Louis Armstrong (Not really about blueberries)
    • Strawberry Fields Forever, the Beatles (…nothing is real…)
    • blueberries_2.pngraspberry_sm.pngblackberries_orig.pngstrawberries.png

  • peachy keen

    This week’s edition of Themed Things Thursday is as peachy as can be, with a hand-picked selection of juicy bits of peach. Just in time for Summer.¹

    1. Do I dare to eat a peach?

      The line from T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock“:

      Shall I part my hair behind?
      Do I dare to eat a peach?
      I shall wear white flannel trousers,
      and walk upon the beach.
      I have heard the mermaids singing,
      each to each.

    2. The peach story of Zhang Daoling, founder of a sect of Taoism. Followers had to prove their faith by leaping an improbable distance to pick peaches. (Did they dare to pick a peach?)
    3. James and the Giant Peach
      The book by Roald Dahl, and animated movie (1996) based on the book. Involves a boy and a journey in a…giant peach.
    4. momotaro The old Japanese folk tale about the “peach boy.” An old woman finds a giant peach floating down the river, which turns out to contain a boy. She and her husband adopt the boy and name him James. No, wait. Taro.

      Another, possibly older version of the momotaro tale involved the older couple eating an unusual peach they found, being rejuvenated by said peach, and then…gasp…having sex, leading to the birth of the peach boy.

    5. Peaches have often been associated with sex, and their cleft shape has been likened to buttocks. Apparently in several cultures, such as in Japan. There’s also A Pathan song (which I read mentioned in M. M. Kaye’s The Far Pavilions) is said to contain the following lines:

      There is a boy, across the river
      With a bottom like a peach
      But alas, I can’t swim.

    6. There’s a South Carolina roadside attraction that is a water tower shaped and painted like a giant peach. It’s said to look like a big orange butt.
    7. Peaches, by the Presidents of the United States. (Hear the song, and see the video. But I warn you, this is a song that can get stuck in your head. It was once stuck in my head for days. Insidious, I tell you.)

      moving to the country
      gonna eat a lot of peaches
      I’m moving to the country
      I’m gonna eat me a lot of peaches

      peaches come from a can
      they were put there by a man
      in a factory downtown
      if I had my little way
      I’d eat peaches every day

    8. Peaches (2004). A movie featuring a peach cannery, and a young woman who works there.
    9. The Ripest Peach, a poem by James Whitcomb Riley. Likens a woman to a peach (that’s out of reach):

      The ripest peach is highest on the tree —
      And so her love, beyond the reach of me,
      Is dearest in my sight. Sweet breezes, bow
      Her heart down to me where I worship now!

    10. There’s the expression “be a peach.” As in “you’re a peach,” “he’s a peach,” or “she’s a peach.” Means more-or-less “be nice.” There was a Bloom County comic strip once about Reagan, where one character argues for his impeachment, and another talks about what a nice guy he seemed, leading to the line “impeach the peach!”

    ¹ It’s Summer now, for those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere. In fact, just today is the Summer Solstice, starting off the official Summer season by some calendars.