Friday, October 24, 2003
Apples are forces of human nature
Western literature is replete with apple stories, almost all involving temptation and power over human will. In Greek mythology, tomboy Atalanta refused to marry unless a suitor could outrun her. She was finally defeated by and married to clever Milanion (a.k.a. Hippomenes), who dropped three golden apples, provided by the goddess Aphrodite, along the racecourse. Atalanta was unable to resist stopping to pick them up, and her suitor was therefore able to win the race and the girl. In another Greek story, Eris, the goddess of discord, tossed a golden apple tagged with a note reading, "For the fairest" into a group of gods and goddesses. Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena immediately began arguing about which of them deserved the apple. The mortal, Paris, decided the contest by giving the apple to Aphrodite, thereby inciting the rejected goddesses against his family and leading eventually to the Trojan War. The nymphs known as Hesperides were said to be the guardians of golden apples sought by Herakles (Hercules) in the most difficult of his twelve labors.
Storytellers and poets from the early times through Shakespeare and Robert Frost have recognized the power of the luscious apple. In all of his work, Shakespeare only mentions the apple about a dozen times, usually to point out its relationship to Eve or its rottenness. Apparently it was powerful enough to make even this great dramatist of human nature nervous. Robert Frost refers to its overwhelming scent and to its power to enervate in poems like "After Apple-Picking" and " The Cow in Apple Time."
Apples are also associated in science and literature with health. Teutonic mythology places the goddess Idun as the guardian of the golden apples. Their magic gave her the title "goddess of eternal youth" and prevented the gods from aging. Today we know that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." Apples contain no fat, cholesterol, or sodium, and one apple provides potassium, vitamins A and C, iron, and more fiber than a serving of oatmeal (20% of our recommended daily allowance).
Swedish Apple Pie
Easy: no pastry!
• Many species grown today are hybrids. The Fuji (Japan's most popular apple) is a hybrid, produced by breeding the American Delicious with the Ralls Janet of Virginia.
• Most apples can be eaten fresh, used in salads and pies, baked and in sauce. The exceptions are the Rome, which does not make good sauce, and the Northern Spy, which should not be eaten fresh.
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito