|Organic fruit tray from Bella Viva Orchards|
As I got older and abandoned such ridiculous aspirations in favor of more attainable ones like being a food writer who actually earned fair compensation for her work, the fantasy shifted. I created a dried fruit kingdom, and that's where I go when I need a break from it all:
In a dusky square room, I sit upon my throne. It's not a chair but a ten foot-high pile of dried stone fruits. There are purple plums, pinky-red dandy dapple pluots, beige peaches, and sunny nectarines, all layered one on top of another creating a kaleidoscopic tower. Surrounding me are stacks of dried fruit varietals sourced from around the world -- kiwis from New Zealand, dragon fruit from Vietnam, sticky tamarind from Thailand, lychee from China, guava from South Africa, creamy alphonso mangos from India, plump figs from Turkey, and starfruit from Mexico. Every type that's grown anywhere is there in my chamber. Each has been diligently dried in the sun so that the sugars concentrate and the texture turn chewy.
From the window, I see my cheerful subjects roaming the orchards, happily harvesting apples, oranges, pineapples, and papaya. They snack as they work. It's encouraged. Real-life seasons, climates, and landscapes don't exist. Here, the world is only sweet and nourishing.
If you are also a dried fruit fiend, you must check out Bella Viva Orchards. Located in the Central Valley in Hughson, CA, the farm produces a year-round slew of conventional and organic options. Find them at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and Alemany Farmers Market on Saturdays or online. And if you ever want to surprise me with a gift, a bag of sulfite-free dried peaches, nectarines, and persimmons will earn you my limitless adoration.