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Heart's ease - an infusion was said to help mend a broken heart

Friday, 19 September 2014

In praise of... Cox apples

The Guardian used to have a lovely little section on its editorial page, called In praise of... Every day a paragraph or two would praise something or someone in the news - but never on the front page - for a variety of reasons. These praises would be wistful or humorous, nostalgic, hopeful or quirky, and often highlighting some positive aspect of life which would otherwise go virtually unnoticed. They seem to have disappeared with the recent re-vamping of the editorial page, which is a shame - too little attention is given in the press to all the good "little things" of life.

Anyway, a recent good little thing has made me decide to create my own In praise of... It won't be a daily feature, but let's see how long I can keep it up at least as a weekly one! So I will now kick off this new feature by writing In praise of... Cox apples. Or, to be more precise, home-grown English Cox apples, which, thanks to an early harvest, are already on sale.

We had a Cox apple tree in our back garden when I was growing up: it fruited abundantly every year, and what we didn't eat straightaway we stored for several months; thus, for many years it was virtually the only type of apple I ever ate. The first, barely ripe ones were my favourites: my mother and I would bite into their crisp sourness, our faces wrinkling, our teeth sucking as if in pain at that first, gloriously acidic hit. A few months later the sourness would have mellowed, though the apples still retained their crunch and deliciousness.

Not surprisingly I was spoilt by these apples; even today I regard most other varieties as bland, mushy disappointments, so in the months without English or New Zealand Coxes I simply stick to other fruit. But now they're back! - and I can crunch and savour them, even though I can never recapture the perfect, mouth-aching sourness I knew as a child.

Truly, one of life's little joys...

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