What is surprising is that peaches can take you from salad to dessert without being too sweet, too monotonous, or, well, too peachy. Carole Seminara and her husband, Joe Houde, innkeepers in Fredericksburg, also operate the cooking school, which is open to visitors year-round. Most lessons are $49 for two hours, include 4-5 recipes, and serve “ample samples” for consumption. For a September class of eight people, they prepared the peachy meal to show off the region’s local ingredients – not only peaches but jalpeños, goat cheese, pecans and various herbs.
While cooking, Seminara and Houde, both native Texans, effortlessly dropped Texas trivia, history and local gossip into the lesson, providing context for the meal. Peach farming came to the area in 1846 with the first German settlers, who recognized that the climate and soil were perfectly suited for peach production. Today there are 1,400 acres of peaches farmed, with 12 varieties commonly produced, from Bicentennial to Springold. Peaches attract tourists, and not just culinary types: people turn up for peach blossom viewing in late March, harvest from mid-May though early August, and orchard tours throughout the summer. -JANICE FUHRMAN