Saturday, June 19, 2010
Foraged Mulberries and Fresh Strawberries with Tarragon or Mint Recipe
“No, no. We don’t spray pesticides on the mulberry trees. We don’t want to kill anything; there’s enough dead stuff around here,” said the cemetery guard in a singy Jamaican accent, smiling at his joke, and flashing a few gold teeth. Speaking with the background soundtrack of the squawking green parrots that nest in the neo-Gothic spires of the entrance to the historic Greenwood cemetery, the guard used the back of his hand to wave me toward the weeping branches, “eat them; go on; they’re sweet. I used to eat them. Now they stain my dentures.”
Mulberries do stain. In fact, if my head’s down, I recognize these trees by their fallen fruit, and what looks like spilled ink from tiny inkwells decorating the sidewalk. Remembering that it was in Turkey, and with my father, that I first learned about mulberries, I collected a couple of handfuls and ate most of them on the spot. They stained my fingers and hands, sure, but it’s surprising that these sweet berries, less seeded than raspberries or blackberries, and less acidic, too, aren’t more popular here than they are. A folk remedy in Turkey, and used to treat colds and flu and even constipation, mulberries possess all the powerful anti-oxidants found as anthocyanins of other berries, and are also high in resveratrol, the phytonutrient found in the skin of red grapes, and purported to prevent and fight cancer, and extend the life span in mice.
Delicious and healthy, I’m devouring the season’s prevalent berries, and in addition to my foraged mulberries, I’ve been enjoying locally grown, organic strawberries in bulk. With berries like this, all you need is a bowl and a spoon, but sometimes I like to enhance their natural flavor with fresh herbs. This week, I alternated adding some mint or tarragon to the strawberries, but eating them plain has been the preferred method. For breakfast, I finished off the last of my harvested mulberries, so I think a trip later today to the cemetery may be in order. But this time, I'll bring a bowl for the harvest that will, most likely, exceed what I can carry in my two hands. Free berries, can't beat it.
Fresh Strawberries with Tarragon or Mint Recipe
one carton fresh, organic strawberries (organic is important, as most non-organic berries contain pesticide residue)
2-3 tablespoons tarragon or mint leaves (or more or less, to taste)
What could be simpler, healthier, or more delicious? Ah, summertime.