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The word "paradise" comes from an ancient Persian word originally used to describe the walled fruit gardens and orchards of kings and nobles. In the West it referred to the Garden of Eden, an earthly place of supreme delight, and then became synonymous with heaven, the state of eternal bliss. While we were expelled from the Garden of Eden and lost our earthly paradise, we are still blessed with gardens and orchards of wondrous fruit to enjoy.
Fresh fruit provides us with one of life's great sensual pleasures. It is beautiful to behold on the branch and on the table, fragrant and aromatic to smell, satisfying to touch, delicious and beneficial to eat. In short, a taste of paradise. We have fallen from grace, however, and live in a world where that pleasure is being eroded. What with the "world marketplace," modern technologies, and commercial interests, where there are no seasons and everything is available all year round, we are in danger of losing the simple enjoyment of eating a fresh, locally grown piece of sun-ripened fruit. If nothing else, I hope these pages encourage you to wait until summer for fresh strawberries and winter to enjoy your preserves.
Just as the splendid still life photographs of Mike Newton are Italian in inspiration, so my comments and reflections on fruit are from an Italian perspective. I have also included information that I hope you will find interesting as well as useful.
While it may be fair to say that most fruit is best enjoyed just as it is, straight from the tree, it is also true that cooking fruit and eating food cooked with fruit allow you to celebrate the arrival of each season with new colors, textures, and tastes. Ihave chosen some of my favorite fruit recipes, which I hope will add to your enjoyment in the kitchen and pleasure at the table. Please note that all recipes are for six servings unless otherwise stated.