Although native to Asia, peach trees were so abundant in Virginia by the early eighteenth century that one colonist wrote that they grew as wildly as weeds: “We are forced to take a great deal of Care to weed them out, otherwise they make our Land a Wilderness of Peach-Trees.”
While George Washington recorded only two varieties of peaches in his Mount Vernon orchard, Thomas Jefferson cultivated 38 varieties in his Fruit Gardens at Monticello. Jefferson was particularly fond of dried peaches and also used the fruit to make mobby, a peach brandy popular in Virginia.
Mary Randolph's popular 1824 cookbook The Virginia Housewife contains six recipes for peaches, including peach marmalade, peach chips, and peaches in brandy. This recipe for grilled peaches is a snap to make and is great to serve at summer barbecues and other large social gatherings.
4 large ripe peaches, halved and pitted
1 pint French vanilla ice cream
4 teaspoons honey
Heat a grill set to medium. Place peaches on the grill, cut-side down, and cook until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes. Turn over with a metal spatula and grill for another 4 minutes, or until the skin starts to shrivel and the peach softens.
Remove from grill and place 2 halves in 4 separate bowls. Top with the vanilla ice cream, drizzle with the honey and enjoy!
Credit: View of the West Front of Monticello and Garden, painting by Jane Braddick Peticolas
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