September 16, 2021
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The most famous apple in the world is surely the one that Eve (purportedly) used to tempt Adam into sin. (Yes, we know that Eve’s apple was probably a fig. Or a grape. Or a pomegranate.) But history and culture are rife with references to this popular fruit.
Just think of Hercules, whose eleventh impossible task was to steal golden apples belonging to no less than Zeus himself, Newton being bonked on the head and having his “eureka” gravity moment, or Snow White taking the poisoned apple from the witch. Or what about William Tell, who shot an arrow through an apple on his son’s head (inciting a rebellion, by the way), or Johnny Appleseed, who as one of America’s first conservationists sowed apple trees throughout the Great Lakes region and beyond.
Apples are equally famous in art. Of course, there are the many representations of Eve tempting Adam, not to mention the prevalence of apples as subject of still life paintings (Cezanne was a particular fan). But think also of Magritte’s famous apples in such paintings as “The Son of Man,” “The Listening Room,” and “Ceci n’est pas une pomme.” Not to mention depictions of apples in paintings and sculptures based on Greek and Roman mythology.
Not all apples are as famous as these, of course. Apples are really the most quotidian of fruit, relatively inexpensive, available throughout the year, and versatile. From sweet to savory, juice to sauce, alcohol to dessert, apples can be part of any course of any meal.
The most famous apples in my memory? During my first trip to Sardinia, I decided to make a traditional American apple pie for my Italian boyfriend’s family. I had to substitute some of the ingredients but not the apples! It was my first time using a centigrade oven, and the only pan I could find that remotely resembled a pie pan was easily twice as large. I have a vivid memory of everyone sitting around the kitchen waiting and waiting for that pie to bake.
But my favorite apple memories are surely of apple picking with my family. There is something about having children see where the food comes from: picking it with their own hands, and then sitting down for some warm apple cider and apple fritters in the early fall.
What is your favorite apple memory? Are you a fan of apples in art? Let us know in the comments or on social media!
By Peg Kern
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