I‘ve learned that there are new neighbors in our development. Hence, the flour and sugar. I happened to have twenty-four Italian prune plums on hand, because, well, that’s just the kind of psycho kitchen I keep. The violet gems aren’t around long, so when I see them at the market, I nab them up. Growing up, my mother cleaved each plum and cooked them on the stove top until they were thick and bubbling, with cinnamon, vanilla bean, and sugar, “Just enough,” she’d say. “Who needs crust!” I was too impatient to wait for them to cool, dipping my finger in when her back was turned, shoving that finger into my mouth before she could spot me. She was right. They were better once they cooled and thickened up a bit. We’d spoon them over vanilla ice cream or swirl them into breakfast farina or yogurt. There’s something soulful about them, which you can’t say for many end of summer, very early autumn, fruits.
More slender than their stubby round-bottomed plum cousins, Italian Prune Plums look as if they’ve been dusted with a fine coat of powder. Slice them open, and you won’t find bursting runnels or vibrant flesh. They aren’t as juicy, which makes them the perfect candidate for a dessert bar. The Italian jewels have a green tint to them, a telltale of tart. Which is exactly what I look for in a fruit destined for the shortbread life. Tart fruit that flirts with the sugared butter crust is all a girl can ask for. It’s why I like rhubarb bars, and even, although sweeter, blueberry bars. And don’t get me started on my all-time favorite Blueberry Buckle Bars. Sense a theme here. I love me some (walnut honey!) bars because they make good gift. Oh, right, and my Blondes Have More Fun Bars.
Also, if you ever find yourself in South Florida, make your way over to The Boys Farmers Market in Delray Beach, FL. It’s basically a kissing cousin of Zabar’s, but with even more Jews. Their produce is the best I’ve found, ever. Seriously, I’d say it’s on par with Eli’s, which was obscenely overpriced. The Boys produce is all “sugar sweet.” Sugar Sweet Peaches. Sugar Sweet Corn. Sugar Sweet Bing Cherries. The whole place is juicy and makes me want to take my top off and let them squeeze my melons.