Dietribes: Apricots

Image credit: 

• Apricots originated in China more than 4,000 years ago. The fruit made its way through the Persian Empire and through the Mediterranean where they became a staple.

• Eventually, Spanish explorers introduced apricots to the New World, where they were planted in California. The first major production of the fruit in America was recorded in 1792 in San Francisco.

• In Latin, apricot means "precious," a term bestowed because it ripens earlier than other summer fruits. Though similar to its cousin the peach, the apricot is smaller and has a smooth, oval pit that falls out easily.

• Speaking of those pits, they can be carved into beautiful objects. Also, the wood of an apricot tree is used to make an Armenian instrument called a Duduk.

• Instead of Apple computers, what if we were using Apricots? Indeed, Apple faced competition from a drupe-named computer company in the 1980s. Applied Computer Techniques, later renamed Apricot Computers, had started in the 1960s. The Apricot had a very cool early voice recognition feature for dictation - users could create a file of just over 4,000 words and repeat them into the microphone next to the screen to get the system used to their voice.

• Apricots are high in Vitamin A, something you might remind yourself of if you down a lot of Apricot Ale ("no really, it's good for me!")

• Apricots have been as far as space (the Apollo 17 crew was given apricot cereal cubes in space, but they were not eaten and returned to earth - for shame!) and at the bottom of the ocean (they were a menu item on the Titanic).

• The apricot has been paired with many other fruits to create hybrids such as plumcots, apriums and pluots. As Slate asks, "So what exactly is a pluot? Seventy-five percent plum and 25 percent apricot? Or 60 percent plum and 40 percent apricot? And how is a pluot different from a plumcot?" According to them, well, "It's complicated."

• Love apricots? No, seriously, love apricots? You can visit the Apricot Altar in Qufu, China. (Actually, the altar celebrates the renowned Chinese thinker Confucius).

• So how do you guys love to eat (or why do you not eat) apricots?

Hungry for more? Venture into the Dietribes archive.

‘Dietribes’ appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.

More from mental_floss...

June 27, 2012 - 8:12am
submit to reddit