Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mulberry memories

I lived in Dubuque, IA from the age of 5 until I was 15. Our yard was a great place to snack. We had two apple trees (one red delicious; one yellow delicious) that put out fruit every other year. Sometimes Dad had to burn the tentworm nests, which was exciting and scary. And sometimes we got paid to pick up apples under the trees (parents, think carefully when you set your per apple price. There are more rotten apples under that tree than you think).

We also had sour grapes growing along the edge of the garden (which we did not plant) and wild chives, which we used to trick my next door neighbor Lisa into eating grass (by telling her that's what we were eating and, boy, was it good!).

We had a big vegetable garden and tomato plants on top of the hill for much of my childhood, too. And there were currants that were great made into jelly but sour and good right off the bush. There was also a large mulberry tree in the side yard.

I ate a lot of mulberries in and under that tree. I learned to avoid the green and overripe berries in favor of the perfectly plump, purply, finger-staining fruit. I don't remember them having an amazing flavor, but they were on our tree in abundance and it is fun to eat something you've just picked off a tree. Especially if you've climbed that tree, pretending you've run away from home, strung up a rope with clothespins on it to pretend you're living there kind of like the boy in My Side of the Mountain, and are enjoying the idea that you will now forage for food for a living.

I had never seen a white mulberry until I bought the ones I tried today. They claim to be "The Turkish Delight" (not to be confused with the Turkish Delight eaten in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I assume) and are much sweeter than the dark mulberries I remember. A tad too sweet for me, actually. "The berries are an excellent source of Vitamin C and iron," claims the package, so that's good, but they taste a little like raisins, which fruit I don't exactly love. I won't hate eating more of these (in granola, maybe), but I don't think I will be buying them to snack on regularly.

Dried mulberries

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