Tuesday, September 18, 2007

ChocolateBet: November 29, 2006

Chocolate covered fruits and disappearing orchards

There used to be a large cherry orchard south of where I grew up here in the San Francisco Bay Area. To narrow down the geography a bit....Before the nickname "silicon valley" had ever been coined, the stretch below San Francisco and toward San Jose area where I grew up (and live now) was known as Santa Clara Valley, or Valley of Hearts Delight, and similar terms that led you to believe that fruit trees and other crops grew here in abundance. On the street where I grew up there were apricot orchards behind our back fence, and there was occasionally a rousing apricot fight that would break out between groups of kids when there were lots of overripe fruits laying on the ground. This was probably about the time the orchard had been sold to developers, but they hadn't laid in the asphalt street yet broken ground on any houses. So, the local kids were relatively free to take their bicycles over there and try to ride them over the dirt, and check out this patch of nature.

I also remember there was a company called Bee Ritchie that offered dried fruit. Later iterations of their prunes and apricots might have even been dipped in or coated in chocolate. My mom used to order boxes of these around the holidays. What a shame that it might not have been considered cool to eat chocolate-covered prunes. I think they would call them dried plums now - and would charge twice as much. I imagine there are stories like this the world over...So, enough nostalgia about our agrarian past, and back on the chocolate track...

Recently one of the last remaining cherry orchards in this area was recently drastically reduced in size. And, shops and residential units now sit in Sunnyvale on El Camino Rd where CJ Olsen (sp?) orchard and fruit stand once was. However, in the middle of the new shopping center, there is still a store (maybe even run by the members of the same family) where you can go in and buy fresh cherries and other produce. Some of these are sold covered in chocolate of various types. I had some chocolate covered cherries which were good. But, they were not as good as the fruit I remember from years ago, maybe due to the chocolate and and altered vegetable oils used to try to keep things neat and well-preserved now, so that they'll travel better.

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