Do you think because you live in the Appalachian Mountains you are confined to poke salad, venison, black walnuts and all things edgy and gamey when you want to get your wild food on? Think again, mountain dwellers. If you have not experienced the creamy, dreamy tropically ecstacy of eating a paw paw, run don't walk to the nearest paw paw tree and get on that right now. It is really and truly the stuff dreams are made of. Smooth and rich, sweet and thick, soft and delicious, the meat in that fruit is like eating a morsel of concentrated heaven. Blend it with raw cow's milk into a shake and you will never, ever go back. (As in this is definitely not a hit it and quit it situation...)
I know I wrote about paw paws this time last year and probably this time the year before that, but repetition can be a beautiful thing, no? Like driving down Dry Branch in mid September and quietly approaching the 2 mature paw paw trees with excited anticipation, utterly amazed each time at the abundance of mango shaped greenish yellowish brownish fruits dangling in heavy clusters ALL OVER the tree. Picking up about 20 pounds of prefectly good untouched windfall fruit from the ground and then harvesting about another 30 pounds from the lower branches. Smelling the old gorgeous pink rose that graces the back of the abandoned farm house, neglected and empty after a sad divorce of husband and wife some years ago. The ever so intense flavor of the soft fruit in my mouth, like a cross between a banana and a mango, with a creamy custardy texture and flavor, sweet with a sometimes barely detectable bitter note. The sad chorus of crickets singing to a cool night, which began so much earlier than a night did a month ago. The still dew that settles on the chill of a September morning, eyes groggy from a night of deep sleeping and dreaming under a comforter. The melancholy of the summer giving way to fall, the earth turning, making its way around the sun another time, leaving us mortals to squirrel away our nuts in preparation for the dark half of the year. These things are common and recurring and understood as the way things are, yet more precious than I could ever put into words.
So to sum it up, eat yourself a paw paw this fall!
Love, Dana Dee