Dietribes: Apricots


• 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?

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