The Art of the Good Cigar

A Matter of Taste

Good Eats: It’s Berry Season

Posted by herfergrrl on July 6, 2009

It’s that time of year again, when fresh berries of all kinds are in season.  Local “U-Pick” farms are doing a brisk business, and enthusiastic foodies are busily engaged in an orgy of berry cooking, canning, freezing and just plain eating.  Even for low carbers who normally eschew fruit, berries can be on the menu, as they pack the absolute best – and tastiest – nutrient to carbohydrate ratios.  You can buy them at the store or the farm stand, of course, but for sheer sensuality of experience as well as economy of pocketbook, nothing beats spending the day picking them yourself.

The sun is an alchemist.  Fat ripe berries release their hold and tumble down from the thorny vines at the least provocation to cook slowly on the grass, fermenting softly or half-drying to a concentrated sugary sweetness.  The tenacious ones that cling to their stems past ripeness ferment more subtly, their sap turning to living wine.  I gather this windfall and eat like a happy animal, my hands and tongue and lips stained, not minding the occasional bit of grass or earth.   I saw a fat larva wiggle away from one crushed fruit, and I let it go, but doubtless a few of its siblings provided a not-unwelcome bit of fruit-fed protein.  Today I am a bear emerging from its den to taste the fruits of summer, and human sensibilities seem very far away.  My paws are sticky; I will lick them clean.

The sweetness of windfall fruit, sun-warmed and bursting on the tongue, is an evanescent thing that cannot be recaptured any other time in the season.  Into the bucket goes the fruit that will survive the packing, ripe but still firm.  This judicious harvest will have to hold me until next time.  And the fruit is good, but never as good as the moment it is picked, sun-warmed and yielding softly in my hands.

Blackberries are living jewels.  The sun turns them into translucent multi-faceted rubies, as dark and rich as the blood from a serpent’s heart.  I ate one half-ripe crimson cluster, not because it would be sweet, but because it was beautiful.

The sensual animal in me knows only the pleasure of ripe fruit bursting with sweetness against teeth and tongue, but when I am recalled to thought I am in awe.  The process of evolution that creates beauty in a seed sheathed in a fleshy endocarp rich in levulose and bioflavinoids, as well as the perception of beauty in the creatures who are thus lured to become the plant’s mobile agents of reproduction, is amazing in its complexity.  There is food here for the aesthete and the philosopher as well as the hungry animal, and I am grateful.

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