Blood Apples & Tales of the Hood

blood apple red inside & out in a blue bowl | food styled for Persian food blog

Apples are not my favorite fruit. In fact, they don’t even make it my Top 20 list.  But everyone says apples are an exceptionally healthy fruit with many benefits. And by everyone, I mean there is a literal proverb in the English language that says: An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away. And in Iran, ditto, apples are given massive props for boosting health. With one caveat though, there’s a Persian proverb that goes: An apple in the morning is worth gold, by noon worth silver, and in the afternoon it’s merely as good as copper. And in the evening, you should just kick that round & seedy useless bastard out of the house. Just kidding. A little aggressive blogging humor. Heh heh.

So what are these alleged impressive health benefits of apples? (Source)

  • Apples Are Nutritious.
  • Apples May Be Good for Weight Loss.
  • Apples May Be Good for Your Heart.
  • They’re Linked to a Lower Risk of Diabetes.
  • They May Have Prebiotic Effects and Promote Good Gut Bacteria.
  • Substances in Apples May Help Prevent Cancer.
  • Apples Contain Compounds That Can Help Fight Asthma.
  • Apples May Be Good for Bone Health.
  • Apples May Be Good for the Brain.

Cliff notes: Apples are incredibly good for you! May Be.

So, yadi yada, when I’m being health-conscious I kind of force myself to have one each morning for breakfast.

Back when I lived in New York City I would traipse to Union Square’s Farmers Market every chance I got for its interesting vibe and energy where you could find a lot of good food and produce including apple varieties that you’d not normally spot in the supermarket. My favorite kind of apple back then was Pink Lady which is a crisp and tart apple. Just the way I like ’em. The more tart and crisp the better. I don’t much care for sweet apples and is there ever a sense of existential angst felt more keenly than biting into an apple anticipating an awesome crunch and realizing instead you’ve bitten into something spongy and mealy instead? It’s like when you shake hands with those people who have that weird limp kind of handshake that leaves you feeling bothered, unsettled and frankly appalled.

While there’s no cure for the willies you get from a limp handshake, you could always turn less than desirable apples into a Persianized apple crumble with a rosewater cream or some delicious yummy apple confections with saffron, rosewater & pistachios.

Any. How.

Now I live in Tehran, a city with almost as many fruit shops as there are street cats. Translation: a lot! Every neighborhood has at least a dozen street cats fostered by the residents and at least 3 shops that sell nothing but fruits and vegetables and fresh herbs. The closest fruit shop to me is smack dab literally a minute outside of my home and it is a decent establishment with decent products but the owner is grumpy and his treatment of yours truly fluctuates depending on how much yours truly shops. When I buy a little, he wears a thousand-yard stare, barely says anything and maybe even grumbles as we exchange goods and money. When I buy a lot, he perks up and grows effusive and says things like: “thank you for the trouble of your flower hands” as I deign to swipe the card to pay for the goods and practically bows as I take my gracious leave.  Also, I have a feeling he overcharges me at times.

What I’m saying is that whilst I am philosophically and intrinsically loyal to supporting the small mom-and-pop stores in my hood (more like pop-and-son or bro-and-bro stores here in Iran actually), I just don’t enjoy shopping at this Haji Agha’s fruit shop.

So, much like a fickle honey bee, I happily buzz and flick around at the myriad shops within the 3-mile radius of my home for my fruit and veggies and fresh herbs.  One of my favorite spots opens as early as 6 a.m and when I’m an early bird I’m their first and only customer! Which is perfect during these Covid 19 days when I try to restrict my out-and-about walking and shopping expeditions to times when there are the least amount of people present.

jean Paul Sartre black and white photo

L’enfer c’est les autres. Must shop when no one is around. Sartre knew.

This shopkeeper usually keeps a big box filled with the best & showiest of his new arrivals right next to the cash register. One day this box was filled with very small very red apples and a sign that read: “seeb ‘e tu sorkh” (aka blood apples) in big scrawly letters and then in smaller scrawls listing the alleged health benefits of these novel beauties. “Are they sweet or tart?” I asked.  “Tart” he replied, music to my ears, and then he got almost got glowy as big-inhale-big exhale he evangelized: “Khanoom! You don’t know how good these are! These are the best. They are red inside. They are so good for you and they taste better than French apples.” I didn’t even know what he meant by French apples but how could I not buy some from him after that deeply emotional testimonial?

And reader: these apples were and are awesome. Beautiful, red inside, tasty, tart and so crisp they made my jaded heart sing. I’m half kidding. My heart is not jaded. It runs entirely on earnest power. It really did sing however with the joy of munching on these teeny-tiny crisp tart delicious things.

Obviously I did not regret the purchase but I did regret only buying a measly 1/2 kilogram. Two days later I went back with the specific intent to stock up, nay, hoard these awesome red blood apples, and realized with an alarm that he only had a little left.  I effusively praised how good these apples were and he in turn radiated a keen appreciation of my feedback and I think it’s possible that we both might have teared up with the level of emotion we exuded for these red suckers.  That was a nice moment, but it was also a   rookie & fatal mistake because my emotional outburst caught the attention of a nosey shopper in my vicinity whose ears had perked up with our chat and she immediately burrowed into the mostly empty box of apples with her plastic-glove-clad-hands practically shoving mine aside to forage for apples for herself. I guess she was influenced. Ha ha.

It would have been unseemly to get into a fistfight so I let her grab her fill and then bought what remained, which was only another 1/2 kilo. As of writing this post now I’m down to my last one, that I’m saving for breakfast tomorrow when it will be gold. I did indulge a few times here and there at night as well when they are not even worth copper because they just were such a delightful munchy snack that I couldn’t help myself.

Now what are these red-fleshed apples and where do these blood apples come from?  A surreptitious Google search sent me to this Newsweek article among other things and apparently these red apples may be genetic mutants. Mutated by man that is and not nature.

Is it a good thing to expedite mutancy by breeding ? Hmmmm. In the age of Corona and the disaster & crisis smorgasbord otherwise known as 2020 I personally no longer sweat these things and they seem the least of my worry. So yeah, I don’t know if it’s a good thing to tinker with nature or not.

What I do know and can tell you with confidence is that these mutant blood apples tasted damn good, and I’m really really really sad that I’ve run out.

But seriously, what do I know. If brevity is the soul of wit, then this novel I wrote about apples demonstrates that I’m either entirely free of wit or at best a half-wit.

Be that as it may, I hope you enjoyed this tome about my lovely mutant apples.

Blood apple core & stem left over after eating apple on blue plate

Let your earnest heart sing with the tart joy of biting into crisp blood apples.

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Comments (2)

  • L 1 year ago Reply

    Sounds delicious, too bad they aren’t available in union sq. Buy in bulk next time! where do they originate?

    Azita Houshiar 1 year ago Reply

    I’ll definitely buy in bulk next time! Not sure where they originated. The shopkeeper was quite vague about it.

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