Atalanta, the warrior huntress of Greek mythology, was the swiftest mortal of her time. When her father insisted upon her taking a husband she was distraught because she had been warned by the Delphic oracle against marriage. So she laid a condition. Any suitor must win her in a footrace or else forfeit his life, and so many an unfortunate died as a consequence.
Melanion, however, was determined to win. He invoked the assistance of the goddess Aphrodite who gave him three golden apples and instructed him to distract Atalanta with these. In the race that followed Melanion delayed Atalanta by letting the apples fall one after the other whenever she stole a march upon him. He won both the race and the princess who found the golden apples irresistible.
The appeal of apples, glossy colorful globes promising a clean taste, subtle scent and crunchy texture makes them a favorite item in lunchboxes and larders. Tarts and pies, jams and jellies, ciders, sauces and charlottes, dried or baked — there are innumerable ways to serve the fruit. It is easy to digest, taking a mere 85 minutes. It reduces stomach acidity. It stores and travels well. It is a source of pectin which sets jams and jellies. Entire cookbooks are devoted to this one fruit. The seeds at the apple’s core, however, contain small amounts of hydrogen cyanide, not really harmful, but better not ingested. While apple orchards and wild apples abound in the northern hemisphere, in warmer regions of the world the fruit is precious, costly and treated as an exotic.
Unquestionably appetizing to our tastebuds, apples have figured prominently in works of art, folklore and literature — Williiam Tell, Snow White, Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson and even a physicist who had a point to make!