Since I was young enough to remember, my grandmothers would talk about how this girl or that had a peaches and cream complexion. The description always struck me as both perfectly fitting — and a bit odd.
One day in the summer of seventh grade as I was beginning to explore food and recipes, the phrase was stuck in my thoughts, and it resonated in a way that made me really hungry. The combination was full of promise with the succulent juiciness of ripe summer peaches, and the cool decadence of sweetened cream.
My first foray into creating this combination was, well, clumsy. I simply sliced a bowl of peaches, dumped a few spoonsful of sugar on top, and poured half a container of heavy cream over it. I distinctly remember eating the concoction, bite by bite until the last drop of cream was gone. I’m not quite sure what I was trying to prove, but I can tell you that was an achingly huge amount of heavy cream to consume in one sitting.
Now, my peaches and cream has a bit more sophistication. I’ve made glorious peach melba cobblers, with just the right balance of warmed and sugary sunset-hued peaches and lush raspberries with the cool bite of vanilla bean sorbet. I’ve savored my Grandma Bertha’s open-faced peach pie with sweet cream. I’ve served Carolina peaches in tulip glasses, pan warmed and caramelized with dollops of cinnamon cream and ginger crisps. I’ve swirled juicy chunks into milkshakes, rich with the summer-colored fruit and sweet with brown butter praline ice cream. I’ve made a delicate and creamy peach mousse to top butter-seared slices of pound cake. Best yet, I’ve grilled these peaches to top spring salads and drizzled them with honey cream. The list goes on, but the flavors remain a great summer memory.
Peaches and Cream is so much more than a pretty girl’s cheek color. It’s an enduring flavor combination that has made its way into our vernacular and inspired countless culinary combinations. And the tasty possibilities are endless.
If you hear yourself using food terms to describe something, think about the origin of the phrase. Dig deep into the history of the culinary description, and experiment in your own kitchen to pay tribute to it in a tasty way.