Russ Parsons

Take your pick: how to choose peaches, other fruit

If you want to pick a peach that will taste like nectar, then look at the background color of its skin. When that color, the one behind the peach's dominant reddish-orange hue, turns golden, then the peach is in top form.

That is what Russ Parsons told me. Parsons, a food columnist for the Los Angeles Times, has written a book called How to Pick a Peach. He visited peach orchards, queried the growers, delved into the workings of the peach's inner life, and came up with simple recipes for how to enjoy the fruit. For a fresh-peach dish, for instance, he suggested marinating the slices in slightly sweet red wine.

A peach, he said, is a "climacteric" fruit. This means...