Wednesday, September 9, 2009
'b' is for blackberry
As we get to know each other, you'll learn I'm not much of a dessert person. If a dessert cart rolls by in a restaurant I'll think 'how beautiful!', but won't necessarily want to eat any of it. A little chunk of dark chocolate here or there, or maybe another cocktail, but not a triple-layer, syrup-soaked, coconut-coated piece of cake. Especially if it's on fire. Lest you think I'm all high-horsey about the evils of high-calorie foodstuffs or about any particular food category, let me assure you if the same cart rolled by with bread, cheese, a shot of alcohol (even if on fire), or anything deep-fried on it, I'd be beside myself. So I suppose the "sweet" in my "sweet. bitter. tart" blog name is more applicable to my disposition (okay now stop that snickering!) than my gastronomic leanings.
I'm actually a little ambivalent about certain types of fruit too, with the primary exception being berries (in general) and the blackberry (specifically), which is far and away my favorite fruit in the whole entire world. The lore surrounding the blackberry is intriguing and poetic. In literature, it is associated with “remorse.” That alone is enough to endear me to it for life. The devil is said to have fallen from the sky smack-dab into a blackberry bush after having been booted from heaven. I'm not a big fan of the devil, but have fallen from grace into far less desirable places. The Greeks are believed to have used blackberries as a cure for gout, which may take on increasing significance for me down the road. The bush itself is rather thorny and the idea of risking personal injury in the form of scrapes and cuts to obtain its sweet bounty is nice (see: ‘rose’ or ‘worthwhile things in life’ or 'artichoke hearts' or 'cute, rough boys clad in leather jackets who smoke and mumble incoherent responses to enthusiastic inquiries and seem really awesome in the beginning but then later, no'). Okay maybe not that last one. But still.
Blackberries are full of contradictions. They are regal in appearance with their lush purple coats and little golden crowns. But they are also incredibly low maintenance, which is a good and infrequent combination – fabulousness and ease. Just ask any girl who has ever tried to apply false eyelashes or wrangled with that bra you are supposed to be able to wear 100 different ways but if you try to wear it more than say, two ways, ends up in an unfortunate tangle of straps around your neck. Blackberries grow in the wild, sort of helter skelter, and can be picked and enjoyed straight from the bush by unruly, barefoot children. But, they can also be made into elegant sorbets or provide perfect toppers for the meringue napoleans and fluffy panna cottas served to people in ascots or gowns. See?! They really do have it all!
Since they ripen on the vine, blackberries are perfect right out of the gate and can be devoured when the mood strikes (within a day or two). Other fruits like plums or peaches are more demanding and problematic. They are so delicious when they're just right, but are often either too juicy or too dry. To ripen properly, they must be placed in brown paper bags and the ripening almost never happens on cue and many times happens while you are at work or visiting your Aunt Helen. So you are inevitably confronted with a Green Hard Inedible Thing or a Black Oozing Inedible Thing. Either way, boo. Pitted fruits provide their fair share of obstacles for those of us who don't live near trees with pitted fruit on them or know people who live near trees with pitted fruit on them. And, alas, I am one of those people.
You may be relieved to know I have much warmer feelings toward citrus. :) But that's a story for another letter of the alphabet, dear readers!