Roadside stands are popping up everywhere with the fruits of late spring and early summer. With them are popping up one of my favorite warm weather traditions -- eating cherries in the car.
Admittedly, there are few things in life better than eating a sweet, warm, tree-ripened cherry. The gracious caballero at the roadside stand I visited today said, "Picked fresh this morning. If you like, you come back." We'll definitely be back -- it's a taste simply not available at your local supermarket. But it's not the taste that makes eating cherries in the car such a beloved tradition. It's the sport. See, eating cherries in the car is all about what you do with the pits.
In a pinch, side windows will suffice, but let me assure you that there is no greater summertime joy than leaning back and spitting with all your might to send a cherry pit soaring through the sunroof of your car. Evaluating your fellow passengers' techniques is almost endlessly amusing -- are they explosive spitters or do they go for the more refined, "ptoo"? And that moment at the apex of the cherry pit's flight when everything seems to stand still for a split second before the wind whips it backwards and away is pure joy.
Still, as with any sport, there are some basic rules to remember.
- DO make sure the driver is not laughing too hard to stay safely in the proper lane.
- DO NOT choke on the cherry pits.
- DO make sure your mouth is free of spit, chewed cherries, and anything other than the cherry pit before spitting.
- DO spit UP into the sunroof and not OVER. The person sitting beside you will thank you.
- DO NOT attempt to spit straight up at low speeds. Again, the person sitting beside you will thank you.
- DO be considerate of drivers directly behind you.
- DO NOT use this process to exact revenge on tailgaters and then tell the judge in court that the Piker Press told you to do it.
- DO always drive and eat safely, whether separately or in conjunction..
As many roadside fruit stands as I've visited and dusty country roads as I have driven down, this simple, sophomoric sport, like the joys of summer itself, never seems to grow old.
And for more responsible things to do with summer fruit:
Munger's Glazed Fruit Pie
Cursh 1 cup berries, add water. Bring to boil. Simmer 3 minutes. Strain, keep the juice. Add water to the juice, if necessary, to make 1 cup liquid. Add cornstarch, sugar and salt, stir until smooth. Boil until the mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Cool and pour over the remaining fruit in a baked pie shell. Refrigerate until cool. Serve. (Do not spit out moon roof.)
- 1 quart of fruit
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 3/4 cup sugar or fructose
- 1/4 tsp salt
Originally appeared 2002-06-17