Sweet as…peachy-keen…..and a little delicate, too

Just before the wild,  once-in-a-century, flood, stormed through our city,

An insider's view of the Rain of the Century

An insider’s view of the Rain of the Century

and  burst the river banks ,  a friend went foraging across town and, then, treated me to some of her finds…beautiful, tree-ripened blackboy peaches…

Gathered in before the storm

Gathered in before the storm

Which are rarely found anywhere except in an old garden, or a forgotten corner of a park, or a vacant lot.

They are sweet as…in a tangy way, with a very distinct aroma and intense depth of flavour (struggling for words here…. perhaps the best description is …”definitely not an anaemic supermarket peach”).

Definitely not a supermarket peach

Definitely not a supermarket peach

They are delicious fresh from source, if you don’t mind the fuzzy, rough feel of the skin as it touches your tongue, but  they are even better when cooked, not the least because of the rich purple-plum hue that the fruit develops as it mixes with sugar and heat.

Blackboy peaches are my favourite peach for baking and stewing and juicing and jam-ing.

But here’s the little bit of ‘delicate’ associated with them.  I am not so peachy-keen on the name; blackboy. For as long as I can remember that has been their name, and, truthfully, I didn’t think much about it, until a few years ago. They were what they were, and always had been, at least in New Zealand.  In much the same way, that Chinese gooseberries were Chinese gooseberries for my parents and grandparents until, one fine day, in 1959, they discovered they were not. The gooseberry (which it actually wasn’t anyway) had morphed in to kiwifruit because the American market was not too peachy-keen to bite anything tainted with the name Chinese.  Yet, Chinese gooseberries, before they became kiwifruit, did, at least, have some logic to their name, since the seeds for the kiwifruit came to New Zealand from China, in 1904.

But blackboy peach….what’s with that name? No one, not even the plant nurseries, seems to know the whys and wherefores of this nomenclature, or how the tree came to New Zealand and became so popular with home gardeners.  Or, if anyone does know, they’re not telling their tale on the internet. I have searched and searched, fruitlessly.

Was it called blackboy because our down-to-earth ancestors couldn’t be bothered with a fancified, foreign name similar to  Sanguine de Manosque, or peche de vigne, or the rather gruesome sounding Blood Red Peach? Or did they find it confusing, or strange, to call them  Indian peaches, or stranger still,  Indian Blood Peaches ,and wanted to make them more homely and warm and friendly, so latched on to blackboy; in acknowledgement of the fruit’s skin texture and deep, rich colour. Since the blackboy peach has been a much-loved fruit, I doubt any harm or slur was intended by the name but, perhaps, if these trees and their delicious, precious fruit are to survive beyond a few backyards and abandoned sections, it’s time for a makeover. How about calling them something like,  ‘Sweet as…’  What could be more modern ‘Kiwi’ than that, to honour a fine fruit of our New Zealand  heritage?

Shall we drink to that?

Sweet as...peach tea...anyone?

Sweet as…peach tea…anyone?

A note of sympathy:

With the sun shining again, it has been  peachy-keen for some of us, today. The some of us who have dry feet and dry homes, that is, and who can enjoy the sunshine without stressing about a massive clean-up and more insurance claims. It’s been a rough 36 hours, or more, for some of our citizens, and their trials are far from over. The earthquakes have changed land levels and river beds, and flooding will  be an on-going problem in certain areas of the city.

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93 thoughts on “Sweet as…peachy-keen…..and a little delicate, too

  1. mmmarzipan

    Very sorry to hear about the natural disaster your community dealt with 😦 Lovely peachy creations, though! I too had no idea about Kiwifruit being called anything else!

    Reply
  2. Sheryl @ Flowery Prose

    Beautiful peaches – I’ve never seen such dark-coloured ones here. It will be awhile before the peaches from the Okanagan come into season – I usually try to obtain a case of them from someone who is travelling there during that time. Love to make peach pies and can fresh fruit in syrup for the winter.

    I am so behind on my reading, I had not known about the flooding there – I do hope the recovery effort is going well, I really feel for you all there, especially with all of the rebuilding after the earthquake.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The Okanagan region looks like a lovely place to visit in blossom time as well as harvest time. But if you can’t visit, a case of peaches would be a wonderful substitute. 🙂
      Thanks for your concern about the flooding. I think most people are over the initial clean up but will now be involved with settling insurance claims, and wondering if they want to, or can stay, in their flood prone areas.

      Reply
  3. Karen

    Absolutely beautiful peach. Sorry about all the bad weather you have been experiencing…I hope those effected by the storm will be OK.

    Reply
  4. lensandpensbysally

    I have to tell you that your title took me right into my memories of my mother. She used to say “peachy keen,” and a wave about her covered me. Thanks for the lovely thoughts about a woman who was one of the most creative beings that I have known (She was an abstract expressionist and designer). Those peaches look amazingly sweet, and remind us of what we have done to the topography and natural habitats.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That is so wonderful to know. Gave me goosebumps. I only know ‘peachy-keen’ through reading about it over the years, and, now, to know it was an expression used by your mother makes it bounce off the page and become real to me. Marvellous, and how kind of you to share this precious memory with me.

      Reply
  5. Mélanie

    Another interesting and delicious post… I love peaches – of any color and yours are really awesome… I’ve never seen that kind here in “old Europe” or elsewhere… I did watch on TV news the flood and quake disasters… 😦 bon courage and my very best!
    * * *
    @”What could be more modern ‘Kiwi’ than that, to honour a fine fruit of our New Zealand heritage?…” – we do plan to visit NZ this coming winter… 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you for the bon courage.
      I was hoping that you might have seen something similar to this peach in France or Spain.
      Do you mean you are coming when it is your winter or ours?

      Reply
  6. ordinarygood

    You may have some photos of this flood event or know others who have photos which might help this NIWA scientist: http://sciblogs.co.nz/waiology/2014/03/07/calling-for-christchurch-flood-photos/. Like you I keep thinking that temporary dykes, such as they have in The Netherlands, might help reduce further flooding until a more permanent “answer” can be agreed upon and put in place.

    I fear for people’s mental health after this lot and yearn for more collaborative approaches to the huge issues that our country faces, especially in Christchurch.

    Just a thought through the fog of this wretched flu…would the Koanga Institute have some historical knowledge pertaining to the Black Boy peach?

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Stopbanks would surely help. I am wondering what has happened to the redeveloped portion of the Avon river that was done post-earthquakes. Did it survive? I will have to investigate. I didn’t get any photos but Ruth has some good ones on her blog.
      And, yes ,people were already struggling with mental health and the Health Board was struggling to keep up with demand for mental health services. These floods will not help, at all, at all.
      I have checked the Koanga Institute website but there wasn’t anything on the site. A phone call to them might produce some information though.
      Hope the fog of flu lifts soon!

      Reply
  7. Cath at Lizzie Rose Jewellery

    Can you send some rain our way please? Singapore is experiencing a drought. It hasn’t rained for nearly two months now… and to add insult to injury, the rainforest fires are blazing in Indonesia again causing ‘smoke haze’ to blow our way! The smell of burning is in the air… on a lighter note – love the look of those peaches!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That’s incredible that Singapore is so dry. We had been much too dry here until the flood this week. Seems to be a case of all or nothing, these days. At least we don’t have the added burden of smoke haze. What do you do about the haze? Just stay indoors? Or wear masks? I thought the peaches would go very well with the colour of the year 😉 !

      Reply
      1. Cath at Lizzie Rose Jewellery

        Yes they would wouldn’t they! Well the haze is just starting to get worse and I’ve just had to close all the windows as my head is starting to ache and my eyes are sore. Last June we had it pretty bad and we were advised to stay indoors and wear masks if we had to go out, especially the vulnerable. I hope it doesn’t get that bad again, it was like being under house arrest (not that I would know what that feels like…)!

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I would hate the smoke. My eyes and nose and head go crazy if there is smoke coming from the neighbour’s chimney. Fortunately, they don’t light their fire too often.

        2. Gallivanta Post author

          Thank goodness you got the hang of your wood-burning fire then! Since we are on the subject of peaches; apparently peach wood makes very good firewood with a lovely aroma. Perhaps you could find some in Portugal?

        3. Cath at Lizzie Rose Jewellery

          That’s interesting, we normally use oak (I think). We have a peach tree in our garden so that won’t be available as it’s a good producer but I don’t recall seeing peaches in the wild, more almonds and carobs, figs and pomegranates by us…

        4. Gallivanta Post author

          Perhaps a few dry twigs that fall from the peach tree would add a hint of peach to the fire. That’s if you like that aroma of course! What kind of peach tree do you have?

        5. Cath at Lizzie Rose Jewellery

          Mmm, it has been pruned but not sure where the twigs went (that’s the problem when we are not there at pruning time), I will definitely do that next year and as to the type, I’m not sure, but it produces regular fuzzy peaches…

  8. Coulda shoulda woulda

    Argh, my comment didn’t seem to go through…

    Was just saying I have never seen a peach that color and am sooo curious to the taste. In Korea and Japan they have THE best white peaches that make mist other peaches seem bitter. It is something I miss sooo much living here is the quality of fruit… Honestly I rarely eat them here as it depresses me a bit so seri g this new specimen makes me feel like I am missing out!!

    Reply
  9. afrenchgarden

    Lovely peaches! They are a favourite fruit of mine but here the trees get infected by a horrible disease called peach curl. We had hoped to grow them in the garden but I couldn’t stand seeing their leaves bubbled and pink. We have one old tree left my husband refuses to cut down.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That happens to a lot of peaches here. And my nectarine tree which blossomed so profusely last spring was struck with some sort of leaf curl and looked miserable and failed to fruit. As we head in to autumn the leaves are beautiful again. It’s so odd; almost as though it was having a tantrum about bearing fruit. Perhaps for the blossom alone your old tree is worth keeping 🙂

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh, yes, I knew about the pie scene but not having seen the film I didn’t realise it was a peach pie. Symbolism of the peach? Various options…represents the heart, love, marriage, wealth, happiness, longevity. fruit of heaven….
      But, really, I would rather have Julia teach me to make a peach pie than Josh. So much more sensible.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Indeed. Now, what would have really sold the silly scene to me would have been a follow- up like this; because the pie-dish is ridiculously overloaded with peaches, peach juice bubbles out and blackens the oven trays; makes a dreadful mess. It being Labour Day, man rolls up his sleeves and cleans up the mess he has made. Thereby improving man’s contribution, in the US, to food preparation and clean up. “Thirty-nine percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 65percent of women. (See table 1.)” http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm
          Oh well, it was only a film and at least he tried to help in the kitchen.

  10. April

    Oh, those peach delights made me hungry, and think about our summer. So sorry for all the devastation your country had had to endure.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      These dark, wine coloured peaches are one of the highlights of summer; a special seasonal treat. I look forward to their harvest.
      Thank you April for your sympathy. Every country seems to suffer adverse weather at some time, but this is insult to injury after all the earthquake damage some people have experienced.

      Reply
  11. Miss Lou

    I feel like I could do with some peach tea right now. I never drink Tea or Coffee, though feel like I am getting an itchy throat.. *sighs and slumps*…

    Beautiful pictures and if I was well enough I would be trying to eat that Edmonds Fruit sponge right off the screen! #LooksDelicious

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Those peaches are full of all the masses of good health vibes you need right now. And the fruit tea (which has added lemon) would be perfect for sore throats and sniffles. Peaches and tea would have you up and kicking Murphy’s shins in no time. ps I am normally a peaceable person but there are some occasions where a little kicking is justified 😉

      Reply
      1. Miss Lou

        Agreed! Murphy needs to back off! I’ve enough to contend with at the moment, let alone having to race around the place naked for lack of clean clothes!~

        #ReallyWantsPeachnLemonTeaRightNow

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          That image makes me think a restorative peach brandy may be more helpful than tea. But perhaps you don’t indulge so tea it will have to be.

  12. Tiny

    Another delightful post. Interesting research mixed with beauty, delicious treats and sympathy. My thoughts are with the people struggling with a clean-up again..

    Reply
  13. dadirri7

    goodness you are taking a hammering over there, I do hope everyone is OK … and I love the look and sound of your precious old peaches … I don’t know them here but they look very yummy 🙂

    Reply
  14. utesmile

    Wow those peaches look great and delicious, specially what you do with them. Oh I would love to try everythign specially the fool… yummy. I have never seen those dark ones around here. It is a bit like blood oranges you don’t see them often either.
    On the others note the flooding looks terrible, we had lots of it too over Christmas and after here in Britain. It is terrible for the people affected as water just ruins everything. I do hope they get help and get sorted !

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The peaches remind me of blood oranges, too. I hardly ever see the blood oranges here but I love to have them in juice or salad.
      In our paper today there was an article comparing our floods with your recent floods in Britain. The article said that, both in the UK and here, poor environmental management and understanding of catchment areas and drainage and dredging were as much, if not more, to blame as nature.

      Reply
      1. utesmile

        That is interesting. Thanks. I had recently lots of blood oranges as I get a weekly parcel form a local farmer and he puts in what is in season. they were delicious, also in juice.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I agree. And many times I buy produce from the supermarket and end up throwing it away because although it looks good , it tastes terrible. Buying cheap can be costly.

  15. coulda shoulda woulda

    First of all what on earth ( literally) is happening with the weather?! It’s almost as if all this wifi and advancement of other sorts is being neutralized by mother nature reminding us not to get ahead of ourselves…I hope everything is ok with you and perhaps the house is being fortified?

    Onto that peach – stunning – never seen one like that before. Have you tried east Asian white peaches? They are one of my absolutely fave fruits of all time – just as it is no sugar no honey no cream no pie no nothing. It is perfection and even better than white European peaches – that is one thing that I miss most about Asia. That peach looks like it would be competition though!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      My house is currently high and dry. I say currently because most of our city is built on swamp and old flood plains and because we choose to ignore that reality when we build, we are all vulnerable to really severe weather events.
      After much searching, I have found that we grow a Korean peach in New Zealand http://www.waimeanurseries.co.nz/our-products/fruit-trees/peaches/yumyeong/ and from this we have developed our own Korean type peach called Coconut Ice http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/plaveg/pbrpov/cropreport/pc/app00004617e.shtml If I see any of these peaches in the shops or markets I will be sure to taste them.
      Our black/blood peach would be more popular for cooking than eating fresh, I would say. I like it both ways but then I like slightly sour, firm fruit.

      Reply
  16. Su Leslie

    Glad you are alright and not trying to dry out a flooded home. My heart goes out to everyone in Christchurch; you have had to bear so much.

    BTW There’s an orchard near Kumeu (northwest Auckland, but you probably know that) which grows and sells blackboy peaches. They are my wonderful, but I still prefer the golden queen grown at the same orchard.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you Su Leslie for your concern. I am glad, too, that my feet are dry.
      I love Golden Queen peaches but, sadly, I haven’t had any really nice ones in ages. I will have to come north.
      I have also seen some internet references to Maori peaches but have yet to see any images of them. Apparently they were widespread before European settlement.

      Reply
      1. Su Leslie

        I’ve never heard of Maori peaches. Will have to investigate. The best Golden Queen peaches I know come from the Boric orchard near Kumeu. They also grow the Blackboy peaches. It’s an old family business and they have spray-free fruit and some heritage varieties.

        Reply
  17. tableofcolors

    So sorry to hear about the flooding! This variety of peaches look wonderful and I agree perhaps a new name should be created although I’m sure there are many fond thoughts associated with the current one, somewhat like a trusted old friend.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      This peach is like a trusted old friend; the tree itself is reliable and relatively disease free and the peach is a good all-rounder. I don’t know how these trees stood up to the storm. Perhaps quite well.

      Reply
  18. Just Add Attitude

    I love the soft focus images of your window ledge. Blackboy seems such an un-PC name so I wonder will it morph into something else, but it seems from your post that this variety is endangered. It’s sad to read about flood damage, there has been flooding here – not on a huge scale – and I wasn’t effected. It must be soul destroying if one’s house was damaged in the earthquake to have to face another round of repairs and renewal a few years later. 😉

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I doubt the name will change unless it becomes a commercial crop, and that is unlikely because this peach doesn’t have the looks, or texture, that appeal to the modern supermarket shopper. Plus the fruit bruises easily, so is best when it travels straight from tree to plate.
      Yes, some people in our city must be so very, very tired of it all.

      Reply
  19. Mrs. P

    WOW…I feel for everyone there who got water damage. Such a blow when so many are just starting to recover from the earthquake. I am so glad your feet are dry.

    It is interesting that the word history on the name is not easy to discover. I had a look myself and tough I believe it is hidden in the vast vaults of the internet, I could not find it. But…it does get rave revues, especially in the disease free department.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thanks for helping me with my search. There must be an answer somewhere, but, as you say, the vaults are vast! The name could also be a direct translation from another language. This type of peach is interesting, too ,because it can be grown from seed which makes me think I should try to do that. Must research more on how to go about that.

      Reply
  20. KerryCan

    I hate to see flooding like that! I hadn’t heard anything about this–poor, poor people. As if you all hadn’t experienced enough in the way of plagues. The peaches are fascinating–I’ve never heard of them and that name would be seriously politically incorrect in the US, given our past. But the peaches are so beautiful and your concoctions look yummy!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The flooding is simply tragic for some people. And for our city, really, because, if one part is suffering, everyone else does too. Apparently, some kind of fix to the problem is at least 2 years away. I suspect the name for the peach is dodgy here, too, though widely used, but isn’t it fascinating that once we couldn’t sell our kiwifruit to the US because the name Chinese was seriously politically incorrect?

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Indeed it was. In China, its homeland, they were originally called Yang Tao. But the name Kiwifruit has been so thoroughly adopted around the world that New Zealand has now added Zespri to Kiwifruit, to give more marketing punch. So we have Zespri Kiwifruit. Zespri is supposed to represent vitality and energy..

  21. YellowCable

    The blackboy peaches look interesting. For a person who like peaches, how their taste compared to the typical peachy peach ones? I also do not mind the a bit of rough feel of the peach skins (actually kind of like it 🙂 ).

    You turned the blackboy peaches into many more delicious foods (yum). The tea is also interesting. I would like a cup 🙂

    My sympathy goes through those in the flood areas. Hope they manage to get through it well.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I don’t mind the rough skin on peaches either. But some people find it very unpleasant. I don’t know what kind of peaches you can buy but most of our supermarket peaches seem to be soft with lots of juice. This is a firm fleshed peach and quite tangy even when ripe. Thanks for your sympathy. For some people this will be the last straw.

      Reply
  22. Travelling Kiwi

    I haven’t met blackboy peaches before, as my peach sampling is all from supermarket fare. They look rich and delicious, almost like plums. Sweet As seems a very good name for them.
    But oh! the floods! I have been following the news about the floods with deep sympathy. I feel for the people of Christchurch having to suffer under yet more blows, after everything else you have had to put up with. It’s becoming clear that the floods and the earthquakes are connected, and that earthquake recovery includes flood prevention. Let’s hope the government council will acknowledge this and take steps to prevent more floods without any further delay. In the meantime, I hope the peaches continue to provide some comfort against the rain.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The peaches, in their warm colour and general deliciousness, give great solace. So does comfort food, in the form of Edmonds fruit sponge :D.
      It’s quite alarming to realise just how much our city has slumped. One wonders if we need to bring in Dutch engineers and some of their great solutions for flood management.

      Reply

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