by Hugh Gilmore
Because I bought some tomato plants there once, I am on an email list from Primex Garden Center in Glenside. Thursday a week ago I opened up a message from them that said the Georgia Peach Truck would be there on Saturday from noon to 1:30 p.m. I immediately took a full sheet of paper, wrote “PEACHES” on it and laid it on the floor next to the dining room table.
For two days, my mouth watered whenever I walked past that reminder. On Saturday, we drove to Primex at 11:15 a.m., found an actual parking space and were seventh in line. By noon, the line snaked on though the parking lot and down the block.
I first heard of this Georgia Peaches Truck a year ago and have been salivating ever since. I don’t know if any of you have a good peaches source, but I don’t. What passes for a summer peach around this neck of Philadelphia is a cold, peach-colored bocce ball you need to wait three days to soften. And when it finally does and you bite into it, your mouth encounters a disgusting piece of predigested, tasteless fuzz.
The people who praised the Georgia Peaches Truck said they were the real deal and would remind me of my youth when fresh, ripe succulent peaches were the norm all through July and August.
I had no idea what to expect about how these orchard jewels would be dispensed, but at 12:45 p.m., a giant rented Ryder truck pulled up. A couple of already sweating men from Georgia jumped out, set up a tent and tables, pulled some stacks of 25-lb. boxes from the trailer and the sale was on. The friendly, recipe-sharing crowd suddenly stilled as though the Archbishop of Cantaloupe had pulled up. Sales began at once, and people walked off happily lugging their peach booty.
We bought one 25-pound box of about 60 peaches for $45. My wife, Janet, wants to make all kinds of cobblers. Unlike T . S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock, I “dare to eat a peach” and I want to shove at least five a day in my face next week and feel the juice run down my chin. So we made a deal. I took 30 and laid them out on the windowsill until Monday, when, we’re told, they’ll be ready. Jan will bake the others. I loved them – ate six a day. I begged like a pooch who loves his kibble, and Jan gave me another half dozen. I sure will look forward to their return to Primex on July 26. Their manifesto, history and schedule are online as ThePeachTruck.com
That was Saturday. Just when I thought the weekend couldn’t get better, I learned that the new documentary about Luciano Pavarotti (“Pavarotti”) the late, great opera tenor was debuting this weekend at the Ambler. Despite Sunday being such a beautiful day, we went to the 1 p.m. matinee. We needn’t have hurried to get good seats. Only about 20 other stalwart souls were there, but that’s my kind of crowd – compared to the itching, sneezing, talking, scratching, pop-up evening crowds at most theaters.
It was a wonderful movie for its insights into the physical and psychological demands of singing opera. It also had some great interviews with the super-tenor’s ex-wives and daughters. And plenty of moments of pure listening pleasure, highlighted by close-up footage of the Three Tenors in their debut concert in July 1990. Ron Howard directed this generous film which I’ll call Pavarotti light, since it is essentially a tribute film. Very enjoyable, though.
(If you want more Sturm & Drang and your grandmother is unshockable, you might want to take her to see “Rocketman,” a much more powerful and moving biopic based on the life of Elton John.)
Well, gee, Hugh, let’s see – such a life on the cutting edge – you say you actually bought peaches this weekend? And on top of that, wow, you saw a movie about an opera singer while everybody else was watersliding?
Yes, I did. And to finish it off, I’m going to start reading a crime book set in Ireland called “Belfast Noir” tonight. Here’s the how and why: There’s a sushi restaurant up Route 309 in Montgomeryville called Ooka. Over the years, I’ve met the manager, Ken Johnston. He’s an Irishman from Ireland with a lovely accent and manners. In microbursts, we discuss books.
I introduced him to Gene Kerrigan, a terrific crime novelist from Cabra in Dublin and gave him a copy of the Europa Books edition of “Little Criminals.” In turn, Ken wrote out a name for me to look up if I wanted to know about the Irish underworld, especially in Northern Ireland since “The Troubles.” The name is Adrian McKinty, whom I am now addicted to, especially his Inspector Sean Duffy series. I’ll have much more to say about him in future columns, but wanted to get in a quick mention of him in case you need something to download while you’re lounging your way through the holiday this week.
In the meantime, I’ll try to keep up my hard-driving pace and report back to you about any other wild pleasures that fall my way.