a cobbler inspired by paraguayos
Sam and I were friends before we got to Spain, but only casually. We had been in one class together the previous fall, when he was a freshman and I was a junior. But we spent our month in Spain attached at the hip. Everyone on our study abroad trip wondered whether Sam and I were “involved, ” and our host families conjectured the same. We weren’t, but we also weren’t surprised people thought so. We were a great duo.
We were in Comillas, a miniscule town about 45 minutes from Santander, on the northern coast of Spain. Circled around a U-shaped coast, the main attraction in Comillas is the beach. The village rises up from the sea into the hills surrounding it, which keep the town nestled in the little valley between the Atlantic Ocean and the foothills of the Picos de Europa.
We were there for the month of June, before the summer tourist rush. We spent our mornings at school in an ancient castle on a hill overlooking town. In the morning, we’d walk up a winding road through eucalyptus trees and stop to smell the sweet nut-like buds that fell from the branches. Then we would paint, each of us in our own work station in the castle, surrounded by canvases we had stretched and gessoed and stapled tightly. In the afternoon we were free, and Sam and I would go to the beach.
Sam and I knew all the shortcuts in town, the shops with the nicest vendors, and the best times of day to walk through the town square to see little kids kicking around a soccer ball. On the beach I read novels, sang songs, and tried to teach Sam to roll his “R”s. “Perrrrrro,” he would purr, unable to master the gentle rumble of a Spanish “R”. We obsessed over babies splashing in the shallow pools. We both got very, very tan.
The meals we ate with our host families were rich and oily, typically fried, and a lot for my delicate tummy to handle. I would lie on the beach after lunch and groan in pain, and Sam would put his ear on my belly and listen to it rumble angrily.
In an effort to balance out our diets of fried potatoes and mayonnaise-doused salad, Sam and I made frequent stops at the fruit vendor. We would take a brief detour on our route to the beach to purchase paraguayos, the fruit known to some as Saturn peaches. The woman soon recognized us, the duo who loved her flat, juicy peaches. “Dos o cuatro, hoy?” She’d ask. We always bought four, two each. One for now, one for later when our tongues were dry from sea salt.
The paraguayos were my savior. They relieved my gurgling stomach, and became the staple of my Spanish diet. There is nothing quite like walking barefoot on a hot beach boardwalk with peach juice dripping down your forearms.
When I got home from Spain, I was relieved to return to the comforts of my own kitchen. I ate arugula, kale, and chard with even more gusto than usual. But I missed the peaches. And I still miss them—those sweet, juicy, squished-looking paraguayos that Sam and I ate on the beach together every day.
Even though I no longer spend my days between my painting studio in a castle and eating peaches on the beach, I couldn’t bear to go on without my peach fix. One way I keep peaches in my life is with this peach berry cobbler. Sam and I can’t eat paraguayos together every day, but at least we can share this delicious baked treat.
Cobbler transcends seasonal boundaries, it’s extremely easy to make, and it’s undeniably delicious. A good friend first made this particular one for me, and I think it comes from a Barefoot Contessa recipe (although Ina doesn’t put oats in her crumble topping … weirdo). You can easily replace the peaches and blueberries with other fruit, if you so choose, but you’ll never catch me ditching the peaches for some inferior fruit.
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
1 cup blueberries
For the topping:
1 cup flour
½ cup rolled oats
? cup chopped walnuts
? cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 stick cold butter
Preheat oven to 350°.
Boil a pot of water. Put each peach in for about 45 seconds, then place immediately in ice cold water. Peel peaches and slice into wedges. In a large bowl, combine peach slices, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and flour. Mix in blueberries. Set aside.
Combine flour, oats, walnuts, sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and diced butter in a bowl. Use a fork or fingers to incorporate the mixture, until the butter pieces are the sizes of small peas.
Put fruit in individual ramekins or a baking dish, and sprinkle crumble on top. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 45 minutes, or until the crumble is browned and crispy. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.