When you hear the word “apple,” what comes to mind—the color red or green? Do you think of homemade apple pie or apple pie a la mode? What about baked apples in butter and cinnamon? You might remember the wonderful taste of candied or caramel apples when you were a kid. Well, there are more things you can do with an apple beside bake it and eat it.
Juggling with apples happens to be a very popular pastime. There’s a YouTube video of Justin Bieber juggling four apples. You might want to check it out. Others enjoy carving faces out of them. They are called shrunken-head apples. This is considered an art by many sculptures. Using Granny Smith apples, they carve the apple, and then dip it in lemon juice and salt to keep it from turning brown. After about two weeks, beads are used to make the teeth and eyes to bring unique character to the apple face. The apple determines what type of shape the face will take as it dries—sometimes it may look like someone you know! I remember in grade school one year we made a turkey apple in art class right around Thanksgiving time. I believe I used toothpicks, some type of candy for the feathers, and olives for the face. It was supposed to be an edible turkey apple, but after being passed around by my five siblings who were in awe of my beautiful work, it was put on the table as a decoration. When I was an adolescent, most birthday parties I attended played a game called “bobbing for apples.” The idea of the game was to try and bite the apple with the quarter in it. You had to keep your hands behind your back while you stuck your head into a cold bucket with floating apples. Not only did your face and hair get wet, but the front of your blouse was soaked too. History states that this tradition began when the Romans brought back an apple tree after conquering Britain. When the apples were sliced in half, the seed had a pentagram-like shape, which was a symbol representing fertility, and it could also predict marriages. During an annual celebration, young unmarried spectators would try to bite into an apple floating in water or hung by a string. The first person to bite into the apple would be the next one allowed to marry.
Apples make wonderful decorations, too. You can place them in a bowl in the center of your table or core them and place small flowers inside them. I once saw a beautiful centerpiece consisting of 10 red apples in a row that were hollowed out, with tea lights in their centers. An apple can also be used as a cup. Just hollow out the center and fill it with homemade cider. Another great way to display the beauty of an apple is to make a wreath. I’ve even seen the apple carved into wonderful displays such as butterflies at dinner events. One of my favorite traditions is to slice it up and steam it on the stove with some cinnamon sticks and cloves for a wonderful autumn scent.
The symbol of the apple can vary from good health to evil doings. The apple is the forbidden fruit in the Book of Genesis. It represents knowledge, immortality and the fall of man. To artists, it symbolizes love and sexuality.
American Indians would call a person an “apple,” meaning they are red on the outside, but white on the inside. This meant that they lost touch with their cultural identity. It was the fall of an apple from a tree that inspired Isaac Newton to study the universal pull of gravity. Manhattan is called the Big Apple. The expression, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” indicates the healthy benefits of an apple.
To me the apple is a symbol of youth, health and all things good. So, the next time you buy a bushel of apples, don’t just think about baking them. There’s so much more you can do with apples.