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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Apricots do not start out dried


Laugh if you're from California, but when I was growing up my mother regularly bought dried apricots, and it never occurred to me there was a fruit called apricot that wasn't dried from the start.

Imagine my astonishment on arriving the first time in July in the canton of Valais, Switzerland, famous for and proud of its apricots. Row upon row of trees, neatly pruned and sized, covered in deep orange-red fruit. I had no idea they could taste so good, free of the concentrated sugar you get in the dried version.

We now make annual pilgrimages to growers when the season kicks in. Here, this morning, is the place where we bought two kilos of seconds, now turned into jam, and one kilo of firsts, for eating. We were at a small family enterprise called "Les Vergers du Soleil" in Granges, near the town of Sierre. When we arrived they popped a couple into our hands, saying "Try this!" When we left, having bought fruit, they said, "Have another - they're so good!" I left feeling that this was a really good deal, which it may or may not have been. I couldn't even be bothered to think about sale psychology, which is probably a sign they have mastered it.

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